June 18, 1937 ~ June 15, 2021

Born in: Liverpool, England
Resided in: Asheville, NC

Bernard Sinclair Coleman departed this life on Tuesday, June 15, 2021.

Bernard was born on June 18, 1937 in Liverpool, England, the firstborn of Essie and David Coleman. His father was an ophthalmologist and family practitioner. Bernard’s primary and secondary education were as a day-pupil at Liverpool College, an English public school. After graduating from there, he enrolled in the medical school at Liverpool University. During the enrollment process, it was discovered that he had advanced pulmonary tuberculosis, probably contracted during his summer job in a hotel in the Isle of Man. During his five months of complete bedrest in a sanitarium, his father bought an ophthalmology practice in Leeds, Yorkshire. His parents decided that Bernard should continue his convalescence at home, so he applied to transfer to the medical school at the University of Leeds. To complete this process, he took the entrance exam from his sickbed.

Bernard graduated with a medical degree (M.B.,Ch.B., equivalent to M.D. in the United States) in 1961 and at the same time, he was pronounced cured of his tuberculosis. He completed his residencies in surgery in Wakefield, Yorkshire, and in medicine in Leeds. His special interest was in obstetrics and he obtained a senior residency post in Workington, Cumberland, in the far north of England. After 12 months there, he decided that he would like to do something completely different before settling down to his career. He sought a job as a Ship Surgeon and applied to several shipping lines. Within two weeks, he was accepted to join a ship sailing between London, England and New Zealand and given ten days to get measured for his five different unforms, clear his medicals and obtain his necessary documents. The ship was a 15,000-ton freighter taking a general cargo outbound and returning to England with frozen lamb, butter and fruit. The freighter carried 85 first-class passengers and 128 crew. The majority of the passengers were widows traveling around the world on the late husbands’ life insurance. The rest were young families emigrating to New Zealand. After completing two round-trip voyages, he returned to Leeds to obtain additional experience in an anesthesiology residency. It was during this period he wooed and won the hand of Margot Jenkins, another M.D. who had graduated two years ahead of him. They married in 1965.

The need for long-term job security and income led Bernard to become a junior partner in a family practice in Dudley, Worcestershire, close to Birmingham in the midlands of England. After two years of on-the-job training there, he joined a family practice in Tenby, Pembrokeshire, in southwest Wales for seven years. This was a very happy and comfortable time and he and Margot fitted into the community extremely well. However, Bernard needed more intellectual challenges and in a complete change of career, he entered the pharmaceutical industry as a medical advisor to a German company in Bracknell, England, and was responsible for producing dossiers for approval of new drugs by regulatory authorities in the U.K. and Europe. In 1978, after four years in Bracknell, he was recruited by a Dutch company to go to Columbus, Ohio, USA, to set up a clinical research program leading to the approval of new drugs by the FDA.

The USA provided yet another massive learning experience. Everything was different and adapting to the new culture was a challenge. With wonderful support from Margot, the family quickly learned to fit in, while Bernard embarked on a massive travel schedule to recruit and monitor investigators all over the U.S. and Canada for his drug development plan. In recognition of his research program, Bernard was appointed Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmacology at the Ohio State University and awarded a Fellowship of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine (FFPM) of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of the United Kingdom. He usually made it home for the weekends but with periodic trips to the home office in The Netherlands, he was rarely available to support his kids’ activities. In 1988, the company he worked for relocated to Marietta, Georgia and Bernard decided to look for another job. He found an opening with the Upjohn Company in Kalamazoo, Michigan and remained there until his retirement. In 1999, he was diagnosed with lung cancer and had half a lung removed.

Then, after two very long and snowy winters in Michigan, he and Margot decided to look for somewhere more temperate to continue their retirement. They toured Arizona, Florida and South Carolina before discovering Asheville, North Carolina. It met most of their criteria and they quickly settled into their new home. After nine years of very enjoyable independent living, during which they volunteered weekly as patient advocates at Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry, obtaining free medications from drug companies for patients without insurance, they decided to relocate to Deerfield Episcopal Retirement Community, just a couple of miles away, while they were still active.

From the time that Bernard was invited to join the Rotary Club of Tenby in 1971, Rotary became his major extracurricular interest. He was Secretary of three clubs before he was elected President of the Rotary Club of Kalamazoo-Sunrise in 1996. He attended four Rotary International conventions and made two mission trips to India, in 1998 and 2002, the latter accompanied by Margot, to assist in massive national immunization programs for the eradication of polio. He and Margot also made a medical mission trip to Nairobi, Kenya in 2008, where the team examined and treated over 8000 children in two weeks in the slums of Mukuru. The highlight of Bernard’s and Margot’s Rotary experience came in 2012 with a Friendship Exchange visit to Barbados, Antigua and Trinidad, where they were given VIP treatment to enjoy Carnival. He received several “Rotarian of the Year” awards and in 2014 he was awarded the Rotary International Service Award for a Polio-Free World.

Bernard’s other interests included travel, both domestic and overseas to over 80 countries on every continent except Antarctica (including two round-the-World journeys with Margot in 1986 and 2019), photography, videography, cooking and needlepoint. He also developed skills in desktop publishing, producing newsletters for each of his Rotary Clubs, Congregation of Moses and ISAAC (Interfaith Strategy for Advocacy and Action) in Kalamazoo, Congregation Beth Israel in Asheville, Deerfield Matters monthly and The Hotline, the quarterly publication of the North Carolina Continuing Care Residents Association (NorCCRA).

Bernard spent many hours assisting other residents of Deerfield to overcome their computer problems.

Bernard and Margot had three sons, each married to Michigan girls. Their eldest, Paul, a Physician Assistant, and wife Lizy, had a daughter, Morgan, and a son, Evan, who died at the age of 12 in 2012. David, who worked in Human Resources for the prison system and his wife, Mary, had two sons, Jeremy and Riley and a daughter, Katie. Jonathan, with a Ph.D. in management, worked for the Ford Motor Company for 30 years, and was married to Cindy.

In lieu of flowers, Bernard’s family graciously asks that memorial donations be made to the Manna Food Bank (https://www.mannafoodbank.org/how-you-can-help/donate/)

Groce Funeral Home at Lake Julian is assisting the family.


Funeral Home Assisting The Family:

Groce Funeral Home at Lake Julian
72 Long Shoals Road
Arden, NC 28704


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The family greatly appreciates donations made to these charities in Bernard Sinclair Coleman's name.

Manna Food Bank

627 Swannanoa River Riad
Asheville, NC 28805

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  1. Bernard was a good friend an outstanding gentleman. Quiet spoken, intellectual, and caring. He and his wife were happily married for many years and showed people around them how it should be done. He was always supportive of Margot, his family, and anyone else that might need his help.
    We will miss this giant of a man and know we will see him again.
    Myron and Angela

  2. How he adored Margot – his life’s love. He touched so many lives – near and far – not only with compassion, but action. Bernard was so interesting to be with and able to engage in so many subjects. A true modern Renaissance man.


  3. Bernard and his family were lifelong family friends. I have very happy memories of time spent with them in Tenby, Bracknell and Ohio, and my late mom visited them several times in the US. Sending love to Margot and family x

  4. Margot and Family
    So very sorry to hear of Bernard’s passing. Iam praying for you during this difficult time

  5. Dear Margot:

    We are so sorry to hear of your loss. Bernard was truly a world citizen; he was kind, witty, and so good at critiquing and choosing films for the film group that we had the privilege to be a part of for a few years. On reading his obituary, we are humbled by what a full and rich life he led. Gratitude for sharing him with us!

  6. Dear Margot and Family, You are in my thoughts and prayers… I hope that you will find comfort and peace in the great love and life that you shared with Bernard…..He will be missed tremendously. I had the wonderful pleasure of getting acquainted with Bernard in recent years through our Rotary Club. As I learn more about his fascinating and extraordinary life story, I am in awe of all of the greatness and goodness he brought to this world throughout his entire life…. With Heartfelt Condolences~ Sincerely, Mary Nesbitt, MANNA Foodbank.


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