On February 8th 2021, misfits across America lost a childhood hero, and history gained a defiant philosopher. Clarence Wesley Coonce, Jr – Wes to his friends, Claire to his wife, Junior to his parents, Papa Coonce to neighborhood children, Papa Pete to his grandchildren, and Pater Familias to us all – drew his last breath, asleep in his bed, lying next to his wife, Elizabeth, as she reached her hand out to touch the expanse of his back. He was not known by millions or even thousands, but the hundreds who did know him will never forget him.
Wes inspired in those he met sometimes awe and reflection, other times joy and raucous laughter, the rest of the time they just wanted to smack the crap out of him. But whatever he inspired, it was always intense, urgent, a matter of life and death. He questioned everything and taught those around him to do the same. Even when debaters disagreed with him, they came away changed.
No stories about Wes could be written successfully, for he is an unbelievable character: a philosophizing migrant worker, a country-living computer programmer, a swindling PhD student, a conspiracy theorizing Mensa member, an outlandish, bombastic, adventure-seeking, prank-plotting, Elvis-wailing, tall-tale-spinning, dirty-joke-telling, dancing buffoon who spent his life contemplating the meaning of human existence. He lived many lives over the course of his 78 years, and he nailed every one.
To read more about Wes’s life, visit forevermissed.com/clarence-wesley-coonce. A virtual memorial service will be held on Sunday, February 21st at 2:00pm, wherein attendees are encouraged to sign up to share funny, poignant, or light-hearted stories about Wes. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or if you would like to share a story. Flowers and cards can be sent to Elizabeth Coonce at 7005 SE 221st St, Hawthorne, FL, 32640, and donations are encouraged to the St. Francis House homeless shelter of Gainesville, FL. If you would like to contribute to Wes’s memorial fund, please send your contributions via Venmo @Elizabeth-Coonce. Look forward to a good old-fashioned Coonce Family gathering to celebrate Wes’s life in summer 2022. Arrangements are in the care of MILAM FUNERAL AND CREMATION SERVICES 311 S. Main Street Gainesville, FL 32601 (352) 376-5361 www.milamfh.com