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Ed Coil, who was born in Ohio and spent the bulk of his professional career in Fort Wayne and Detroit before becoming bringing his numerable talents to Adams County, was bestowed with the Decatur Chamber of Commerce's greatest honor on Thursday evening as the 23rd recipient of its Stephen Decatur Award.
The award, presented annually since 1988 for lifetime achievement and contributions to the local community, was one of several handed out at the chamber's annual dinner meeting held at the Knights of Columbus pavilion.
Coil, who spent 34 years with the Fort Wayne-based Zollner Corporation — including 10 years as general manager of the Detroit Pistons professional basketball team — and who has served as Adams County commission for the past 15 years, was introduced to the chamber crowd by Adams County Economic Development Executive Director Larry Macklin.
Macklin said Coil is "an exemplary individual who is extremely benevolent with his time and many talents. He's been a mentor to many of us in this room, and we are fortunate to have Ed serving in the many arenas he does today."
Coil was born in Willshire, Ohio, and graduated from Spencerville, Ohio, High School. He was drafted into the Army in 1951 and served with the 5th Regimental Combat Team in Korea for 10 months.
In 1956, he graduated from International College and then was employed by Zollner Corporation for 34 years, serving for 10 years as general manager of the Zollner-owned Pistons.
In 1974 owner Fred Zollner sold the ball club, and Coil then became involved with managing pension plans for the Zollner Corp. A few years later, when Zollner sold the company, Coil headed off into retirement. But that hiatus was short-lived. After being retired for only one year, Coil was asked to return to the firm, now under new ownership, as a pension consultant. He remained there for 17 years.
The next chapter in Coil's professional life came in November of 1996, when he was named to complete Mike Ripley’s remaining two-year term on the Adams County board of commissioners. It's a position Coil has held since that time.
He currently serves on several boards, including the Adams Wells Crisis Shelter, Adams County Economic Corporation, Maumee River Basin Corporation, the Adams County Solid Waste District, and as commissioners' representative on the Adams Memorial Hospital Board as a non-voting member.
He is married to the former Ruth Ehrsam of Pleasant Mills and they have three adult children, Rick Coil and Eric Coil and Denise Alberding, along with four grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Coil was humble and soft-spoken in accepting the Stephen Decatur Award on Thursday.
"I appreciate this award and the people who made it possible," he said.