Obituary: Buckner Coe

Reverend Buckner Coe, minister of Claremont United Church of Christ from 1970 to 1974 and a resident of Lake Forest and Laguna Beach, died peacefully May 11. He was 93. 

Buckner (Buck) Coe was born December 11, 1924, a sixth-generation minister. A graduate of Yale University and the Yale Divinity School, he served as a pastor for churches in Zanesville, Ohio; Lordship and Hamden, Connecticut; Wilmette, Illinois; Cleveland, Ohio and Claremont. He also served as an interim minister in Scarsdale, New York, and in retirement was a guest preacher at the Neighborhood Congregational Church of Laguna Beach.

He was outspoken on peace and social justice issues. He marched with Martin Luther King in Selma, Alabama in 1965, was a leader in the 1965 Chicago area North Shore Summer Project for fair housing, and led anti-Vietnam War campaigns in both Chicago and Claremont. He concluded his career working for the National Farm Worker Ministry on behalf of Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers Union to improve wages and working conditions for farm workers. He continued his active engagement in politics and social issues in his retirement.

Throughout his career and in his retirement, Reverend Coe engaged in a scholarly pursuit of the work of H. Richard Niebuhr, a Protestant theologian and Christian ethicist.

He was predeceased by his wife, Kathryn Dowley Coe and his brother, the Reverend Chalmers Coe.  

He is survived by his wife of 23 years, Judith Polich Coe, whose love and care for him had no bounds; sister, Rev. Ansley Coe Throckmorton; four children, Andy (Liz), Rev. Karen Chalmers Coe, Jonathan (Julie), and Sara; and grandsons, Ryan and Jackson.

A service to celebrate Reverend Coe’s life will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 16 at Neighborhood Congregational Church, 340 St. Ann’s Dr., Laguna Beach, CA 92651.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to JOY!, the social justice outreach work of NCC at, or via mail to Neighborhood Congregational Church, 340 St. Ann’s Drive, Laguna Beach, CA 92651, with “JOY! Outreach-Coe” in the memo line. More information is available at or by calling (949) 494-8061.


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