Galveston has lost another treasured citizen and visionary leader in the passing of Janice Coggeshall. Jan will be remembered by most as the first woman elected mayor of our city, following five years of service on the city council.
Many will remember her for her advocacy for Rosenberg Library, where she was a founder of the annual Used Book Sale, forger of the agreement to build the Sealy Pavilion as a permanent home for the Galveston Summer Band concerts and, as president of the board of directors, oversaw the most recent extensive renovations of both the historic and newer buildings following the aftermath of Hurricane Ike.
Teachers and administrators in Galveston Independent School District will recall Jan’s interest and involvement in public education dating back over 40 years to her service on the Intercultural Development Research Association. Until this past year when health issues intervened, Jan tutored reading with elementary school students weekly. She knew how to lobby for causes with officials at city hall and beyond but was willing to roll up her sleeves and do everyday work herself.
Jan’s passion for education led her to promote universal access to Galveston residents attending Galveston College. Until recently, she served as president of the Galveston College Foundation board.
Jan served on uncountable committees and boards, holding positions in most every organization in the community from the Chamber of Commerce to the University of Texas Medical Branch School of Nursing. She was dedicated and tireless in making our city a place of equal opportunity for all citizens. Her personal investment in a group of older homes north of Broadway was yet another example that she did not just “talk the talk,” but actually “walked the walk.”
I share all these memories of Jan because I have lived here and benefited from her community involvement for over 40 years. However, my most treasured memory is of a dear, dear friend, who never forgot a birthday or anniversary, frequently giving great parties to celebrate; a friend who entertained us with dinner parties, luncheons, always doing all the cooking and decorating her home in the theme of the party. I will never garden without thinking of Jan’s gifts of gardening gloves through the years!
Jan was a proud Wellesley graduate, a wife proud of her husband’s professional accomplishments, and a totally proud mother and grandmother, but she also rejoiced in my and other friends’ good fortune. There have been many blessings in my life, but meeting Jan at a League of Women Voters meeting at her home in 1975 and becoming her friend has enriched my life beyond measure. You deserve to rest from your labors, my wonderful friend.