HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Robert Frank “Clip” Coates, Jr., founder of Spirit Coach, died recently after battling cancer. He was 55.
A native of Huntsville, Coates graduated from Randolph School and attended Birmingham Southern College.
The Coates family has operated the Avis Rent a Car franchise in Huntsville since 1959. At an early age, Coates became president and expanded the business to include Budget Rent a Car and Budget Truck Rental.
His entrepreneurial heritage came to light in 2000 when he founded Spirit Coach and invested in the company’s first motorcoach. Spirit now operates 10 rental locations across north Alabama and 14 luxury motorcoaches that travel more than 800,000 miles a year throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Coates was committed to numerous community events and organizations including the Huntsville Rotary Club and Foundation, Crime Stoppers, Rise, Phoenix, Boys and Girls Club, Heritage Motorcoach Resort & Marina, the Alabama Motorcoach Association, and the Avis Licensee Association.
His passion to mentor deserving young adults was fulfilled with the Huntsville Rotary Club STRIVE program.
In his spare time, Coates loved to take Sunday rides to find new construction sites, chase trains and “play in the dirt” with heavy equipment on his property. He also loved to travel, especially with his wife, Debbie, in their beloved motorhome.
Coates was preceded in death by his parents, Robert and Lois Coates, and his nephew James Anderson. He is survived by his wife, Debbie, their three daughters, Nicki Marlowe (Andrew), Brooke Alderman (Fielding) and Kasie Bishop (Ryan); grandchildren Brandt and Channing Marlowe; sister Jo Lynn Anderson; nephews Jason and Justin Anderson; great nephew Ashtin; and numerous cousins and many other beloved family and friends.
After his death in January, the Alabama House of Representatives passed a resolution honoring Coates. It read, in part: “Be it resolved by the House of Representatives of the Legislature of Alabama, that while grieving the death of Mr. Robert Frank Coates, Jr., we are extremely grateful for his abundant life, and we offer this resolution in highest tribute to his legacy, as well as with heartfelt sympathy to his family and friends.”