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Leroy Raymond Coles Jr.

Born on 7-8-1931. He was born in Buffalo, NY. He was accomplished in the area of Community. He later died on 3-25-2015.
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Leroy Raymond Coles, Jr., born to a loving family in Buffalo, New York died on March 25, 2015. He was educated in the public schools of Buffalo and became an influential leader in that community. Leroy received much of his early social and cultural development as a participant in the Buffalo Urban League programs. After completing service in the U.S Army, he graduated from Morgan State University with a degree in Sociology. Leroy began his long career of service with the League as director of physical education. He left the League in 1962 to work as a caseworker and then probation officer for the County of Erie. In 1965 Leroy returned to the Buffalo Urban League as the assistant director of Economic Development and Employment.

The Buffalo Urban League won a contract in 1966 with the U. S. Department of Labor to develop an on-the-job training project (OJT), only the second civil rights agency in the country to have this distinction. Leroy was appointed director of the OJT Project, a program that grew under his guidance and nurture. It was a project that continued in the League for more than ten years and trained thousands of participants.

In 1969, Leroy was ready to manage a civil rights social agency when he was appointed by Whitney M. Young to head the Union County Urban League in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He served as the League's executive director for four years in a jurisdiction covering four other communities. Under Leroy's leadership, the agency was freed from debt, developed exciting new programs and increased the agency's visibility in the community by offering extensive quality service.

During the historic and tumultuous times of the 1960's and 1970's, Leroy actively participated in the March on Washington and continued to march for the rights of his people through the 90's. He proudly spoke of his involvement in the Washington, DC March on South Africa where he and many colleagues and friends were arrested; and again, with pride of his participation in the Million Man March.

In 1972, Leroy returned to Buffalo when the Urban League Board of Directors appointed him its president and chief executive officer. Leroy led the BUL through a variety of locations, steadily building programs and services to meet the emerging needs of the minority citizens of Buffalo and Erie County. The League has had five homes over the years, succumbing to urban redevelopment and successfully rising like a phoenix from a devastating fire to its present million-dollar headquarters located in a handsome building in mid-town Buffalo. It is now a multi-sited agency providing a variety of innovative programs for its clients.

Leroy Coles was especially successful in leading the League in grant development at the national and state level in order to bring new services to the Buffalo community. Yet, his leadership skills and influence extended far into the community, the state and the nation. He was very active in promoting peace and racial harmony during and after the 1960 riots and the desegregation of the Buffalo Public Schools. Leroy was the first African American trustee of Erie Community College and served for 11 years. He was president of the National Urban League's Association of Executives, the Eastern Regional Council of Presidents/Executives and the New York State Council of Presidents/Executives. He was inducted into the League's Quarter Century Club and the Academy of Fellows.

Leroy was a member of numerous boards during his career, which include Black Leadership Forum, Boy Scouts of America, Buffalo Chapter of American Red Cross, New York State Constitution Review Committee, Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site at Wilcox Mansion and trustee of Children's Hospital. His knowledge and experiences resulted in many consultant and lecturer positions at several universities, colleges and corporate businesses. Leroy was a member the North Carolina Chapter of the Morgan State University Alumni Chapter and a lifetime member of the NAACP. He proudly remained a member from college days and throughout life with the fraternities of Alpha Phi Alpha and Sigma Pi Phi.

In 1980, Leroy was chosen to participate in an ecumenical tour of Israel with the American Jewish Society members to gain insights into international social concerns. In 1983, he was a fellow of the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies Executive Seminar in Punalu'u, Hawaii. In 1991, Leroy participated with hundreds of national businesspersons to tour Abidjan, Ivory Coast, West Africa with the First African-American Economic Development Conference under the leadership of Dr. Leon Sullivan.

Leroy received numerous awards in recognition of his commitment of service. The most memorable are recognition from his colleagues of the National Urban League and its Eastern Region, and the Buffalo Urban League Guild; the Brotherhood Award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews; the first non-lawyer and first African American to receive the Erie County Bar Association's Liberty Bell; the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Buffalo Common Council and the Evans-Young Award presented by the Buffalo Urban League in August 2014.

In 2000, Leroy retired to Raleigh, North Carolina where he joined the historical St. Paul A.M.E. Church. Not content to sit at home, Leroy worked a short time with the United Way of the Greater Triangle during their annual campaign and then ventured out into a "new career" where for seven years he enjoyed working as a salesman with the Jos. A. Bank Men's Store in Raleigh.

In October 2018 the East Delavan Branch Library of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library System was renamed the Leroy R. Coles, Jr. Branch Library in his honor.

Leroy, who died on March 25, 2015 was married to Constance Stanford, his wife of 55 years. He had three devoted sons Kyle, Neil and Eric. Leroy lovingly embraced Neil's wife Sydney as his daughter. He also had two sweet and loving granddaughters, Arianna Coles and Christiana Coles. Leroy was survived by three sisters Georgianna Coles McLean, Leah Coles Hodges and Marie Coles Baker. His sister Naomi Coles Caver predeceased him.

A memorial service will be held in the Chapel of Haywood Funeral Home in Raleigh, NC, on Saturday, April 25, 2015. A memorial fund has been established in memory of Leroy Raymond Coles, Jr. that benefits the Buffalo Urban League.