Rep. Frederica Wilson on Liberty City teacher who died of COVID-19: ‘He was irreplaceable’

MIAMI – Rep. Frederica Wilson and a group of students met on Wednesday in Miami to honor the memory of a beloved 55-year-old teacher from Liberty City.

The weather hampered a plan to release balloons in honor of Abe Coleman, who had taught at Holmes Elementary School since 1989. He died on Sept. 2 of complications with COVID.

“This is a man who was irreplaceable ... He will be missed. I have not had a good night’s sleep since they told me he passed away because we were so close to him,” Wilson said.

Wilson thought so highly of him that she trusted him with helping her lead The 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project, a mentorship program that the School Board of Miami-Dade County started with her vision in 1993.

“This is a very difficult time for our family, as it is for many. He was a very present and involved father, making it to all of my many activities, but he somehow found time to invest in the lives of his students, countless friends, and our huge extended family,” Coleman’s son, Abe John Coleman III, said in a statement.

Coleman’s family is also grieving his sister Veronica Coleman-Bostic who died on Sept. 3 of complications with COVID-19.

At least 19 Miami-Dade County Public Schools teachers, bus drivers, monitors, and cafeteria workers ― who were unvaccinated — and died of COVID-19 over the past month, according to United Teachers of Dade.

Wilson said there is a need to increase vaccination rates to help save lives.

“We still need to send a message to African American people to have the courage to stand up and tell their buddies, ‘That is misinformation! Don’t listen to them! Get the vaccine!”

Coleman’s family will hold a viewing on Thursday at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church at 740 NW 58 St. The final rite will be held in Bartow, Fla.

About the Author:

Terrell Forney joined Local 10 News in October 2005 as a general assignment reporter. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, but a desire to escape the harsh winters of the north brought him to South Florida.