The Official Site for David Freeman Coleman

The Official Site for David Freeman Coleman
a.k.a. Funkyman

Did He Ever Talk About . . . ?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Greetings everyone,

Those of you who know me personally know that I've been away dealing with the passing of my father, Dr. Wisdom Franchot Coleman, Jr. Of the several stages of grief, I think I have gone through denial, reflection, anger, and reconstruction. You've probably already read the obituary. If not, click here. I believe that my father deserves a tribute on this page, and I also feel the great desire to tell more of the story which is not so flattering.

To all of you who don't know me as well but knew my father, please know that our family is so lifted by your expressions of love and stories about how Dad was a father, brother, or friend to you or just that he made you laugh or made you feel special. There was no one like Wisdom F. Coleman, Jr.

My father was 66 years old when he died on July 29, 2010.

66 years old.

The first and most popular question people ask is - how?

So, after debating whether or not to share more of this story, I believe I will try to honor my father by being honest and hopefully this information will benefit you in your own life. Here are the 4 pieces of "wisdom" I've learned from my father's illness and subsequent passing

My grandfather died when he was 47 years old.

47 years old.

Unfortunately, he and my father had an argument before he passed that they never resolved. The pride both men felt also kept them from expressing affection towards each other, and when grandpa died from Diabetes/High Blood pressure complications, my father was left stranded in time.

Stranded to spend the rest of his life regretting the lack of communication and the unresolved argument. I can't tell you how many times my father shared this story with me, or how many times I was told "I love you" from my father because he never wanted me to go through life questioning this fact.

He didn't want history to repeat itself.

On June 20 of this year, Father's Day and my dad's birthday simultaneously, I called my father and told him "thank you" for being my father, for loving me, for providing for me, for encouraging and supporting me, and for being a great grandfather. Despite my father's mistakes, I would not be who or where I am today without him, and I felt a strong desire to tell him on that day.

I take comfort in knowing that I was able to share my appreciation with him before he passed. It was probably more for me than for him, but I sit here today with no baggage concerning my dad, and that is probably one of the greatest gifts I was able to give myself.

The VERY NEXT DAY, on June 21, my father was admitted to the hospital to begin the longest and last 5 weeks of his life. He suffered kidney failure and heart failure due to complications with Diabetes/High Blood pressure - just like his dad.

Well, at least not all history repeats itself.

However, I believe the medical issues were only manifestations of a larger issue.

We all deal with depression - whether mild or severe. It is the most elusive of diseases because it lives in our brain, and with enough practice, we can fool the entire world into believing that our disposition is one of joy and contentment, when in truth, we are crying and screaming inside. My father was very good at showing people the joyful, humorous side of his personality. This was not fake - he really did have joy and was very funny. However, like most of us, we allow people to see what we want them to see.

I'm not here to judge my father. He had many blessings to count, but he also had many emotional storms to weather. And without listing all of them here for privacy's sake, please know that depression was the most significant challenge in his life. Every member of my family tried in our own way to help him navigate these storms, but the disease was persistent.

It is my personal belief that the mental and emotional strain of the depression began to manifest itself in his physical body - his eyesight, his ability to walk, his weight, and of course, his heart. In the end, after all of the struggle and the pain, he is finally at rest, at true peace.

Why am I able to write about all of these things with such clarity? Well . . .

I have diabetes.

I have high blood pressure.

I suffer from depression.

I am my father's son. I am my grandfather's grandson.

While my whole life I knew my grandfather passed at a young age, I didn't know the exact reasons until recently. In 2006, I learned of the medical history of my grandfather, and comparing it to my father's and my own, I saw the obvious pattern. Was this all coincidence? Three generations of diabetes and high blood pressure? But, also knowing about the personal battles my grandfather and father faced, I also had the "wisdom" to believe that something greater was at work.

I believed there was a curse on my family. The curse is NOT diabetes and high blood pressure. The curse is the inability or lack of desire to communicate with others about our health and ultimately to be responsible for the maintenance of our care. In other words, DOING IT ALONE does not seem to work.

However, let me recap my recent life to you:

- In 2007, with a thought-out food plan and exercise, I lost 140 lbs. and have kept it off for over 2 years. Both my diabetes and high blood pressure are subdued - I'm medication free. I did not do this alone - I had and still have lots of help from friends, doctors, and loved ones.

- Yes, I have depression but DEPRESSION DOES NOT HAVE ME. I make a daily prayer to have the joy of the Lord be my strength. It's WORKING.

- I continue to tell my daughter I love her everyday. Thank you for that lesson, Dad.

But the only way I can do all of these things is the daily surrender that I am NOT in control. This surrender is the secret to my success. When I try to do it alone, I fall.

However, the life and death of Dr. Wisdom F. Coleman, Jr. can not be summed up in "he was depressed, sick, and eventually it caught up with him." That would be a crime. My father was an amazing person - and there are thousands of testimonies from the lives he touched to confirm this. You may have your many reasons to remember Wisdom F. Coleman fondly. Here are some of mine.

When I was a kid, some of my fondest memories are sitting around the breakfast table with my father for hours listening to him tell stories of his days in college and as a youth. I have never laughed so hard in my life. My dad was Superman.

My father taught me to respect every woman as if she were my sister, even though we had none.

My father taught me to pay special attention to those who often get ignored for whatever reason.

My father, rather than be concerned with the unpredictable life of an artist/musician, not only paid for every piano lesson, but ENCOURAGED me to become a musician - all because he knew that's what made me happy.

My father flew up to Boston at least 2 times a year to see me in concert, and later even more to see my daughter in plays and for birthday parties.

My father always wanted a daughter, but got 3 boys. When I got married and then had a daughter, he then had 2 - and he spoiled them rotten.

My father allowed me to walk in a freedom so that I could literally go anywhere, meet anyone, and do anything. I could go on forever.

I recently wrote a song called "Superman" which I dedicated to my father. Click here to listen.

There is no rhyme or reason why we are allowed to live or why and when we stop living on this earth. We are left to wonder why, and all of this writing is part of my own acceptance of what has happened. And because I also deal with the health and depression concerns one day at a time, I pray that I will be allowed to see my daughter grow up, get married, and have children and grandchildren. As for the so-called curse on my family, I rebuke it.

It was an honor to be called his son. It was an honor to serve and sing at his funeral. I will continue to honor my grandfather and my father by living life to its fullest and declare that . . .

The curse is broken.

Rest in peace, Dad.

- Funkyman, aka David F. Coleman "my father's son"

P.S. - By the way, he was an amazing dentist. :-)


Peter Watson said...

Dear David,
I am tremendously moved by your honesty and in deep admiration of the way you are facing this loss. May you continue your path with courage and strength. It is a privilege to be your colleague and friend.

Your Mother said...

Your strength, insight and appreciation of life never cease to amaze me. No words can express the sadness of the loss of your father, nor the joy of your appreciation of the life he led.

May God continue to bless you with the grace and joy you bring to us and the world.
Love you much,
Your Mother

Anonymous said...

This is a beautiful tribute to your father Mr. Coleman. Anyone would be extremely proud to have a son, brother, husband and adviser as generous, loving and talented as you are. I am glad that you are taking steps that your mental and physical health something that I have seen often times put on the back burner by others in my life battling with the same demons. You will always be an inspiration and one of the funniest people I have ever met.

Anonymous said...

David, I went to high school with your dad and knew your grandfather very well. Your grand parents were very special people and I do mean very special. I remember your dad (upper classman) as that of a very smart kids that did not miss a meal or an "A" in class. Not fat, just filled out his outfits. Your letter touch so many and special fathers because the bond is there or not. My son and I love each other very much but there is a small blockage that don't quite open all the way. I will try more to close that gap on my end. I will keep you and your family in my prayers to God for your endurance. Continue to stay strong in the Lord young man and your faith will see all of you guys through. In the old testament, David instructed his son Solomon, to ask God for "Wisdom" and that is what your grand father gave your dad and your dad gave his boys. Your dad broke the yoke with his kids and God the trend of sickness. Continue to seek and all will be cured.

Stanley Gates said...


Your father was an amazing man and your mother is also amazing. Yes, you are your father's child, however what God has placed in you is greater than amazing. I thank God for you, my cousin's son.

God Bless
Stanley Gates

A T T S said...


I lost my dad almost exactly a year (7/20/09) before you lost yours. I don't think I would have had the courage or the willingness to blog about it and my doubts so openly. Only after he passed did I begin to learn all of the things he did to improve upon the prior generations. Thank you for sharing some of your journey. Life and our understanding of it continues to change. Loss underscores what is truly most important.

The common thread here is that we are fortunate to know you, if only from afar or through others. Know that you and your choices have touched so many, and contribute ripples out into the world into far flung lives and places you'll never know.

Peace and wisdom,

Joan Russell said...

Hi David - I just found your blog and the tribute to Uncle Wisdom is wonderful. I'm so glad I was able to spend a significant amount of time with him on my parents cruise. He's always been a favorite uncle of my sisters and I and we have so many fond memories of him and the entire family (can u still flip your eyeliids and sing Rapper's Delight). Your father's memory lives on in all of you. Love, Joan

T. Ware, DDS said...

Your dad was an inspiration to soooo many people in his lifetime. His legacy will be passed on for generations in the lives of those you never met. My sister and myself were both recruited to UT by your father. His positive attitude and his affinity for helping one another rubbed off on so many of us and continues to be a great part of our lives. He was definitely a GREAT man. Trust that. He used his years for good and he will be greatly missed. We celebrate his legacy in the way we treat others and by reaching back to help young men and women, just as he did for so many of us. God bless u.


Marty Barrett said...

I love you, David.

I look forward to saying it more often and in person in the future, as you have been a goateed lighthouse in my life since I met you in 1993.

I am so sorry to read about your father, but I am very grateful to him for helping to guide three exceptional sons through the world, and I am happy after the fact that he finally got some daughters to spoil rotten.

Your eulogy for your father on this page is one of the kindest things I've ever read. Please give my fond regards to your family.



Dr. Christina Rosenthal said...

Mr. Coleman, your father was Dean of Admissions when I was at UT, and not only was he a faculty member, he was a good friend and supportive! He even came to my wedding and open house for my practice! He did so much for us!! I recently started a scholarship in his honor for a non-profit that I have formed. With all due respect, I can discontinue it because I understand that I did not have his family's permission to do so beforehand. However, it was just my small way of keeping his memory alive to the students he helped the most--minority doctors. You can see information about this scholarship on my website at I found your blog while trying to find a photo of him. You should be SO proud! It's because of your father that so many minorities are now dentists.

Dr. Christina Rosenthal said...

I apologize! I gave you the prefix to my e-mail. The website is

Dr. Maurice W. Lewis said...

Hello, David. Every so often I revisit this blog because of the effect your dad had on my life. I knew him as a colleague on the faculty at the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry and as a very good friend. I saw him as one of my life'so heroes. The lesson I am particularly taking from his life is that people are capable of performing very great acts even in the midst of life's sorrows. I truly had no idea of what Wisdom was enduring because he did not allow that to be seen. It's like Superman hid the frayed areas of his cape, but we still saw Superman before us. I continue to pray for you and your brothers and thank God for allowing me to have had some time with Wisdom. Be assured that he helped make a difference in many lives and I am determined to do the same.