Featured Alumnus: David Coleman ’69


Featured Alumnus: David Coleman ’69

A Different Time At Avon

When David Coleman stepped onto Avon Old Farms School’s campus as a repeat freshman in the fall of 1965, he embarked on a journey that is shared by many other Avonians: a journey of self-discovery, as well as a discovery of different cultures.

“It was an interesting time - The Beatles had arrived, my dormmates from the southern states were listening to Motown, and my neighbor across the hall, Stu, would take off his grey flannels and suspenders every night and place them under his mattress to press them for the next day.”

Indeed, It was an interesting time across the country, yet somehow in the small Cotswold village of Avon, the atmosphere exuded a sense of permanence, acceptance, and comfort that wasn’t easily found elsewhere.

“My older brother had attended the Kimball Union School, so my family was familiar with the prep school world,” explained Coleman. “So when I wasn’t thriving at the local high school, my dad asked me if I wanted to look elsewhere. We visited Suffield, Loomis, Portsmouth-Abbey, and of course, Avon, where Don Pierpont assured my father that Avon would be the right place for me.”

And Coleman did find a level of comfort at Avon. He reflected on how it was nice to be involved and have a sense of belonging on sports teams, even if he wasn’t the best player, and in clubs where he could explore passions with other students with shared interests.

“At the local school, there were definite cliques,” he said. “At Avon, none of that mattered. Students were coming from all different areas, backgrounds, and experiences. And on top of that, the teachers let us know that they were available to us. They let us know that we mattered.”

Like many their first year, Coleman felt homesick during the cold winter months of living in the quad, and worked constantly to stay on top of his studies. But, there were rewards for sticking to it. Between building tree forts in the Black Forest among Mrs. Riddle’s 3,000-acre oasis and having coffee at Miss Porter’s after church on Sunday, Coleman discovered some meaningful friendships that have stood the test of time, including those with Rich Field '69, Larus Avery '69 and Jay Goldstein '68 and two close friends, Bill Milnor '70 and Scotty Tiernan '70 who have both passed.

“My last year on campus, the year of 1968-69, was a hard one following the death of Don Pierpont that fall,” he recalled. “It really shook the school. Then when the student body was rocked with a flu epidemic, the Boar’s Head Festival was canceled. Instead of having a spring dance, seniors voted to take a long weekend away.”

When it came time for graduation, Coleman was unsure of his direction. He entertained the idea of traveling abroad but wasn’t sure he could fund the trip. He decided upon enrolling at the University of Rhode Island, where he knew a few people were heading.

“The transition from a graduating class of 50 or so boys to taking classes with 800 people was an adjustment for sure,” said Coleman. “But, Avon prepared me, and I still believe that the school is better-preparing students to excel at the college of their choice today.”

After his schooling, Coleman explored a few options - insurance, advertising agencies - before taking on a role in 1974 at the family real estate company, Coleman Realtors, founded in 1929.

“We had five offices, one of which was dealing with a lot of new construction projects and dealt with young and transferring buyers - that’s where I found myself.”

As the third generation of Coleman family realtors, Coleman has added decades of experience and local expertise to the team. In 2016, he merged Coleman Realtors with Mott & Chace Sotheby’s International Realty. From their six offices in Rhode Island, David’s team continues to deliver the extraordinary service customers and clients have come to expect while connecting them with the global network of Sotheby's.

Coleman is licensed in both Rhode Island and Massachusetts and holds the Graduate Realtor Institute and Certified Residential Specialist designations. He lives in both Barrington and Watch Hill, Rhode Island, and serves on a variety of boards, committees, and civic or professional clubs.

In addition to Coleman’s first-hand ties to Avon Old Farms, two of his three sons also found themselves at Avon: Chris graduated in 2001 after joining the community as a junior, and Kyle became an Avonian as a sophomore, graduating in 2003.

“Chris knew what Avon meant to me - I think he sensed it when we came for a visit,” shared Coleman. “Then he had a good interview here, enjoyed hockey and lacrosse, and decided to enroll. Kyle found his fit with cross country and squash in addition to enjoying all that the outdoors had to offer. Both of them had their individual journeys here, but I am glad that we can share the experience of the Avon brotherhood.”

Over the years as a Class Agent, Coleman has seen Avon change with the time, and has been impressed by artists and musicians on campus.

“These programs barely existed when I was a student, and now I am constantly impressed by all of the different groups of artists on campus,” he said. “I am still happy to see that no one looks down on you because you’re not an athlete. No one feels intimidated - wherever you find your footing, it’s accepted at Avon.”

This coming spring, Coleman will celebrate his 50th reunion.

“I really hope we get a decent turnout this year - some classmates have never been back, and some are not that far away,” he said. “I used to have to hitchhike home, wearing my blue blazer and tie on the side of the road. Today, it’s a lot easier to get to and from Avon.”

While the details of Reunion Weekend are still in the planning stage, the dates have been set for Friday, May 17, through Sunday, May 19. Mark your calendars now to ensure that you're available to make it back to Avon in May.