The Revd Francis Coates

02 November 2006

THE former Principal of Busoga College, Muriri, Uganda, the Revd Francis Coates, who died on 26 October, aged 94, was known as Jack Coates. He was a tall man with a good presence, and, with the help of his capable Scots wife, Joan, an extremely successful headmaster.

Whether fighting a bush fire between the college and the next-door King’s African Rifles camp where I lived, or deputising for Archdeacon Bill Butler at St Andrew’s, Jilya, he was equally impressive.

Perhaps, however, the high point of his time at Muriri was the college’s Golden Jubilee on 1 July 1961. This was an exceptionally happy occasion. My diary says: “It was extremely well organised, and the school must have had the most enormous influence.”

There were many old students, some of them women wearing the attractive Ugandan dress, and Jack and the Archbishop, Leslie Brown, another outstanding clergyman, made good speeches. Jack must have been exhausted by the preparations and the long day, but took the communion service at St Andrew’s the next day.

He had also assembled a very good staff. When one looks at the present day, it seems tragic that all their good work seems to have gone for nothing.

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