Founding Fellows remember Edward Coker (1929-2018)

18 December 2018

Founding Fellows Geoffrey Thomas and Gerald Bowen Thomas, remember their associate Founding Fellow Edward Coker, who died on 29th November 2018.

Ed Coker, who died in November 2018, was a Founding Fellow of Kellogg College, and an academic member of the Department for Continuing Education for almost 30 years. Having joined the Delegacy for Extramural Studies as an Organising Tutor in Kent, he transferred to Rewley House in the mid-1960s, where he maintained his dedication to the cause of lifelong learning until his retirement as University Lecturer in 1993.

His own academic background owed much to the adult education movement. His route into higher education was via a trades union scholarship to Ruskin College, where he gained the Special Diploma, before going on to read for a degree in PPE at Worcester College. Perhaps not surprisingly, his main academic interests were in Industrial Relations and Trades Union Education. As well as participating in the extensive industrial relations programme of the Department in Oxford and the region, Ed had a particular interest in courses aimed at overseas participants. These included the Advanced Labour Administration Course organised in conjunction with the Overseas Development Administration, which recruited from developing countries in Africa, Southeast Asia, the Pacific and the Caribbean. Another annual event, which Ed Coker directed, was the two-week summer school for the Swedish TUC. After his retirement from Continuing Education, Ed continued to contribute to the Department’s programmes, including his direction of the Duke University/University of North Carolina Summer School.

He published extensively in the British Journal of Industrial Relations, and co-edited the Trade Union Industrial Studies series for Arrow Books.  In addition to his academic work, for many years Ed served as a Labour Councillor on the West Oxfordshire District Council.

His life and career were characterised by his strong commitment to human rights, social justice, and equality of opportunity, and combined with an unfailingly-generous spirit. He will be much missed.