Dorothea Coleman, Pioneer WSU Women’s Coach, Dies

PULLMAN, Wash.–Word has been received at Washington State University that Dorothea A. Coleman, professor emeritus of physical education and a member of the WSU Athletic Hall of Fame, died Oct. 16, in Stanfield, Ariz. She was 87.
During more than a quarter century on the WSU faculty (1948-75), she gained a reputation as one of the most respected advocates in the nation for promoting opportunities in sports for girls and women. She guided the development of WSU women’s sports. In fact, for her first 14 years at WSU, she was the Cougars only women’s coach. Her field hockey, volleyball and basketball teams were successful in those early years. She concluded her coaching career in 1971 by directing the women’s basketball team to the Northwest College Women’s Sports Association title with an 11-1 record.
In 1990, Coleman was inducted into the WSU Hall of Fame, where she joins Helen Smith, early WSU administrator in women’s physical education for whom Smith Gym is named, golfer JoAnn Washam, and basketball player/javelin thrower Jeanne Eggart Helfer.
Coleman taught graduate classes in physical education philosophy, issues and trends and the sociological aspects of sports. She also taught a senior level class on school health programs which was taken by more than 400 students each year.
She was also active in the University Senate, the Academic Standards Committee and Honors Council. From 1966-68, she was vice president of the Health Education Committee of the Washington Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation, and chair of the WAHPER Commission on Professional Preparation for Physical Education in the early 1970s.
Coleman was born May 27, 1910, in Page, W.Va. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa, a master’s degree from the University of Oregon and her doctorate of education from the University of Southern California. She started her teaching and coaching career in the public school system of Normal, Ill., in 1930.
Coleman was a member of the first officer’s candidate class in the Women’s Army Corps during World War II. During four years on active duty during the war, she attained the rank of Lt. Colonel, and was the highest ranking WAC officer in the European theatre. She spent 22 months overseas, with assignments in Europe, North Africa and the Mediterranean. She retired from the active Army Reserves in 1965.
Her honors included being named Outstanding Educator of America for 1974-75.
Memorials in her honor can be made to the Coleman Book Award Fund through the WSU Department of Kinesiology and Leisure Studies or the Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation, Washington, D.C. 90042