Turning Interest Into Action

Coley was born Feb 23, 1918 in Portland, Maine - the son of Coleman Gorham and Julia Ann Corbett-Gorham. He is their third child. He had three siblings, One brother and two sisters, John, Julia, and Mary.  He was an ambitious child. In 6th grade he started working on a milk route getting up at 4:30, then delivered newspapers before going to school, in addition to being a caddy at the local golf course in the spring and summer as well. Coley loved sports and played baseball, football and basketball as a child. In high school coley was a member of the Deering High School Track team. 

Coley attended St Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia and graduated in 1941 with a BA in Philosophy. He was the only one of his siblings to attend college. He paid his entire tuition, room and board. ($200 at the time)

After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941 Coley enlisted in the US Navy as an apprentice Seaman.  Coley was sent to the U.S Midshipman's School at Columbia University and graduated as an Esign.  He then underwent Amphibious training in the Chesapeake at Little Creek and Solomon Isle.  Following this training, he was assigned to the new of LST 352 which was still undergoing construction.  The USS LST 352 was built at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard across the harbor from Norfolk, VA.  It was one of the very first LST's constructed.  In the spring of '43, Coley and his crew sailed to New York where they took on cargo and the placement of an LCT 126' long, welded to the main deck.  They then started there journey first to Bermuda and then through the Strait of Gibraltar, to avoid German U-Boats.

Their trip then proceeded to Oran in North Africa and then to Bizerte, Tunisia and took part in the invasion of Sicily.  Coley and his crew also took part in the invasion of Salerno, Anzio , Isle of Elbe and finally in France at St. Tropez.  The invasion fleet gather in the Bay of Naples.  WInston Churchill game them a royal send-off as he proceeded up and down the coumns of the invasion fleet in a small boat, dressed in a navy peacoat and a clup cap.  As he held a cigar in his left hand, he made the V for VICTORY sign with his right.  It was a moment that Coley would never forget.

After the war, the ship was turned over to the British Navy and the crew was sent back to the states.  While Coley was awaiting orders to go to the Pacific War Theater, the Japanese surrendered but it took several months for Coley to return home to Portland, Maine.

He served for four years in the US Navy and then taught High School English in Eastport, Maine. 

Coley next attended graduate school at the University of Notre Dame inSourh Bend, Indiana. He graduated in 1949 with a Masters degree in English/American Literature. Coley loves literature and to this day he can recite many of his favorite poems by such authors as Robert Frost, and John Donne. 

Coley returned to Maine and taught History at the High School in Mexico, Maine until he was called back into the Navy when the Korean War broke out. He served for three years and was a liaison between the US Navy and the Peruvian Navy and Uruaguay Navy. He was discharged in 1954 as a Lt. Commander.

Next Coley became anentrepreneur and purchase a pub, Carol’s Tea Room in Charlottesville ,Va. in 1956 the pub was sold and Coley enrolled at Boston University. He received a Masters degree in Psychology in 1957. 

Coley went on to teach English for a couple of years and in 1957, he became a school psychologist at Masconomet High School in Topsfield, MA.  

Coley and Anna’s meeting was by Devine intervention. Both of them were asked to attend a conference in place of a peer unable to attend. They met at the conference party and married on July 4th, 1964. (This year they will celebrate 54 years of marriage. Picture to be provided.)

In 1966 Coley retired and became a contractor, a skill he learned from his father. Over the next twenty years,  Coley built several homes in Marlboro, MA including a home for themselves. (picture to be provided) Coley took over a housing development in New  Hampshire that had gone bankrupt and completed the project. 

In the 80’s, Coley and Anna moved to cape Elizabeth, Maine where Coley built two 3 story deck houses with the ocean view. (Picture to be provided)  

Coley and Anna traveled extensively and climbed the Grand Canyon, and spent the night on a ledge in the cannon. That’s a story you should hear Coley tel! 

In the 90’s Coley and Anna became snowbirds and spent winters in Port St Lucie, Florida. It was at this time when Coley became interested in Haiti. 

In the past twenty years, Coley has built 33 homes for the Haitian people; he built a church and St. Patrick’s School. He repaired 108 Haitian Homes damaged by the Hurricane, he completed an unfinished orphanage project, and lent his expertise in design and construction of a computer lab for another orphanage. (Several pictures of coley in Haiti to be provided by Jeanne Otis) 

Coley is an author and has written two books about Haiti and a book titled “How to help you child” I have asked coley to provide me with copies to send to Cap. 

In 2000, Coley and Anna moved to senior housing in Portland, Maine, and in December 2017, they moved to Birmingham to be near family. 

Coley has recently celebrated his 100th birthday with a gathering of family and friends. He did not want to celebrate his 100 years, but instead he wanted to celebrate all the people in his life. With Coley it is never about Coley, but always about others.