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Posted on Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 11:57 a.m.

Former Tappan Middle School educator and Farmers Market fixture Coleman Jewett dies

By Amy Biolchini


Jim Stein, left and Coleman Jewett, right, sitting in chairs Jewett hand-built and sold at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market in October 2005.

Courtesy of Jessica Black

Coleman Jewett, a longtime fixture of the Ann Arbor community, died Wednesday night, sources confirmed Thursday.

Jewett died Wednesday night at the age of 78, his son, Michael Jewett, said.

Jewett was a former educator at Tappan Middle School and a vendor of Adirondack chairs at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market.

“For us and our community at the Farmers Market, he was a beloved vendor. We love him and we’re very sad,” said Sarah DeWitt, manager of the Farmers Market. “On behalf of customers and on behalf of vendors, he will be missed.”

He started coming to the market in 1967, Dewitt said.

Jewett had a stroke Sunday night, according to an emailed message from Jewett’s wife in circulation Thursday announcing Jewett’s death, DeWitt said.

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.


Jeff O

Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 4:35 p.m.

Mr. Jewett was an incredible man who exemplified 'cool' from my days as a student at Tappan in the early 80s up through my last visit with him at the Farmer's market in August. He'd always greet me as the "Big O" ask about my family and discuss the prospects for the Wolverines, his own basketball games and overall take on the community. He truly made a difference in so many lives and his memory will live on for years to come. My heartfelt sympathy goes out to his family at this time.


Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 2:27 a.m.

I was fortunate enough to begin my teaching career in the late 1970's at Tappan with Coleman Jewett. I have never worked for a kinder, gentler man in my life. He was an administrator cut from a cloth we rarely see any more. He knew kids, he knew parents and he knew his staff. He encouraged the best from all of us and always with a smile. He helped me grow as a teacher and as a human being. I owe a lot to him in terms of the professional I have become. He has touched so many lives in so many positive ways. I was also lucky enough to work for his wife Maggie as well and she in turn is another administrator cut from that special cloth. My thoughts are with you Maggie and your family.


Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 1:04 a.m.

I remember the retirement party Tappan held for Mr Lilly when he retired that summer. Mr Jewett and a few of my teachers from the 1970's all came out to say good bye. It was a reunion like no other. I won't go to the funeral, I want to remember that retirement party and remember him that way. Especially patrolling the hallways of Tappan Junior High. Those were the days my friend. There will be none other. O, except for Ms Parks.

Wystan Stevens

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 11:34 p.m.

In the 1970s, Coleman carved modern-day versions of scowling native African totem masks out of exotic hardwoods, and sold them in downtown Ann Arbor during the Art Fairs. He drove a bizarre open car in those days, a Volkswagen model called "The Thing" (the only one in Ann Arbor), in which he hauled his wood carvings. But after awhile, he discovered that an allergy to the sawdust of some of the mahogany timbers he was using caused breathing problems, so he had to abandon that artistic path and switch to assembling pine furniture: chiefly bookcases and Adirondack chairs, which he sold unstained and unpainted, at the Farmers' Market. Some of the geezers who hang out at the Washtenaw Dairy most mornings grew accustomed to Coleman's frequent Dairy visits. I saw him there last Monday, but on Wednesday morning folks missed him, and were asking where he was. His table by the front door, near the lottery ticket booth, was practically a private office, and only lacked a name plate to make it officially his. Most mornings he drove up in a neat white delivery van, which had his phone number and emblems for "Jewett's Adirondack Furniture" on its sides. I hope somebody has a photo of Coleman with that spiffy vehicle. Both the minivan and its driver were distinctive landmarks of Ann Arbor.

Wystan Stevens

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 11:50 p.m.

Correction: It was last Friday that I last saw Coleman at the Dairy.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 11:28 p.m.

My thoughts and prayers are with Coleman's family. Loved visiting with him at The Sunday Artisan Market and the Farmer's Market on Saturday. Always a smile. God bless you Coleman, you touched many lives.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 10:49 p.m.

I have a piece in my dining room, made by Mr. Jewett. I purchased it in the 90's and I've always loved it.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 10:49 p.m.

OH how I will miss him at the Farmers Market - He always had a kind word and a wave for his friends. Lovely man


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 10:41 p.m.

I miss his presence at the farmers market, both his hand-crafted furniture, and the humorous names he would give each piece. Such as "Tonya Harding Night Stand", etc. He always brought a smile to my face.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 10:08 p.m.

I was so sad to hear this news. I went to Tappan and have very fond memories of him... the many blow pops, his painted van, his smile and his sense of humor just to name a few. He always treated kids with compassion and respect. My deepest condolences to his family.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 9:17 p.m.

I worked with Coleman at Tappan in 1986. I was a new teacher and he taught me a great deal about how to talk to students in an honest and meaningful way. He was a man of great insight and always looked for the best in people. He always had a Blow-Pop for a student in trouble. It helped defuse many a tough situation. I continued to reward students with Blow-Pops for many years after that. Thank you Coleman for all the lessons learned. Diane Cupps


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 9:12 p.m.

In the late 90's, I played basketball with Coleman nearly every day for several years. We played at the YMCA as part of a regular lunch group. I know he was a fixture with that group long before I got there, and long after I left. He was a true gentleman and a real pleasure to be around. He always had a friendly greeting and a kind word. Coleman was almost always wearing a smile or his mischievous grin. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family. He made the world a better place.

vicki honeyman

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 9:11 p.m.

I cannot imagine what the market is going to be like without coleman there.....this is a very sad day for many of us in the community and for coleman's family.

Peter Eckstein

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 9:03 p.m.

Talking with Coleman was always a highlight of any visit to the Farmer's Market. I'll miss him.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 8:39 p.m.

I remember that van he had with the Loony Tunes painted all over it. His humor made him accessible to students who would normally shun authority figures. He was hilarious in skits at our choir shows. I saw that round table a few times, and he was so cool in dealing with us. When there were troubles or tragedies, he was the one we looked to for guidance. Once, I was "scheduled" to be in a fight after school by a shed next to St. Francis. Mr. Jewett found out about it. A number of kids had gathered around us there after school. Maybe a punch or two were exchanged before a kid shouted out in alarm. We all looked to see that Mr. Jewett had crossed Stadium and was walking up the lawn toward us. He may have saved my behind that day.

mike wilson

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 8:27 p.m.

This is very very sad ...he was the hilite of my weekly trip to Farmer's Market ..he loved to hear about my daughter's adventures ...Peace to this kind end gentle soul.

Stan Bidlack

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 8:22 p.m.

Coleman Jewett and Rose Martin both gone, days apart. Our city has lost two of its most incredible and inspirational citizens.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 8:19 p.m.

Coleman Jewett made a great impression on me, and I'm certain thousands of others he encountered. I think of a great balance of talents: dignity, wisdom, fun, and delight in others are some. Warm and loving encouragement to Michael and other family members to grieve easily.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 8:17 p.m.

I am SO sorry to hear this! Coleman was a stand-up guy and a fixture at Kerrytown. He will certainly be missed.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 8:04 p.m.

Very, very sad. Coleman used to go to the YMCA at 5 am (as part of a crew that was always there before the doors open at 5:30 am.) He was a great person and it was a blessing to know him.

Joe Ferullo

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 7:54 p.m.

I am truly saddend by the news of the passing of a great friend. My friendship with Mr. Jewett started in the mid 80's when he was my principal. I had some behavioral issues at school, and struggled often times. Mr. Jewett was one of those special people put into our lives that realize the potential inside each and every one of us, and knew how to bring that out in a person. He was able to get through my thick skull, and lead me down a different path. One that has helped me become the man I am today. I am truly blessed that god sent him to me. . He did this by leading by example, and by being a good friend to every single child he was in charge of. Even after jr. high, high school, into adulthood, Mr. Jewett remained a friend, and I will always treasure the good times we have had throughout the years. I have been thinking of the many good times we have shared over the last 30ish years all day today. Looking back you realize that in his own special way, everything he did, everything he said, was teaching you a life lesson. Teaching you whats right and whats wrong. Teaching you how to handle lifes struggles from someone who has been through that before. He did this all by being a friend, relating to people in his own special way that only Mr. Jewett could. The Randy Travis song 3 wooden crosses has a line in it "it's not what you take when you leave this world behind you, it's what you leave behind you when your gone." This is what I keep going back to today in remmbering my friend. For what he has left behind, in every single one of the children he has guided through his many years of service, has made him the richest person anyone could ever dream of. I am comforted knowing he is in heaven, and I'm sure he's very proud of each and every one of us that he has helped mold into adults. I am a richer person for having him in my life, and thank god for sending him to me. I will miss you my friend, and I will never forget you, and the lessons you have taught m


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 7:52 p.m.

The KROLIK family from COPLEY st. is sad to hear about this news, we all send our condolances to the family.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 7:32 p.m.

I have to concur he was a really cool guy. I went to Tappan for 7th-9th grades back in the 70s. He was one of those rare educators that was fun, fair and well-respected by all the kids. I have distinct memories of probably only 10 people on the staff from those days, but he's definitely one of them. A very memorable, likable guy. I remember there was a room you got sent to when you got in trouble. It had this round wooden table in it. Of course, there were some kids who seemed to get sent to that room more than others. Mr. Jewett dubbed those kids the 'Knights of the Round Table'.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 7:23 p.m.

Condolences to the Jewett family. My kids all used his bookshelves in college and I still have them many years later. His presence will be missed.

Amy Biolchini

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 7:02 p.m.

If anyone has photos of Coleman Jewett they'd like to share, please email them to me: I've started a small collection of submitted photos, and I would like to create a gallery we can post online.


Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 1:10 a.m.

I have three yearbooks from the 1970's of him and him clowning with other children. I just remember him being scary. I guess I too was one of the ones always in trouble. I guess I muddled thru. Time to go digging out the yearbooks and have a good cry.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 8:07 p.m.

look at Facebook... under Ann Arbor Townies Only! Some are posted there. People might also have access to more. Informative group!

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 7:02 p.m.

May thoughts and prayers to family and friends. He was a good man.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 6:57 p.m.

This is sad to hear. My condolences to the Jewett family. First Rose Martin and now Coleman Jewett. As someone said, both long time Ann Arbor icons who lived their lives well.

Jeff Renner

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 6:28 p.m.

I am very saddened to hear of Coleman's passing. I was a colleague at Tappan in the 70's, and both students and staff held him in the highest esteem. I remember that for a few years he would shave his beard and head on the last day of school, and then not again for a year. Amy, you will have a big but enjoyable job writing up a story about him. He was an Ann Arbor treasure. A couple of little things I remember are that I think he was a Golden Gloves champion amateur boxer and an athlete at Ann Arbor High and EMU. There is a whole lot more about his life that will make a wonderful story. I will miss seeing him at the market.

Amy Biolchini

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 7:01 p.m.

Jeff, thanks for sharing your memories of Coleman. Doing him justice in one story is a huge challenge.

Jami Lippens

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 6:24 p.m.

I'm pretty sure that I used to work with his daughter Michelle a million years ago. I miss Michelle. If she happens reads these comments "HI MICHELLE!!" and I'm sorry to hear about Mr.Jewett's passing, I will miss seeing his smiling face at the market.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 6:23 p.m.

What a great man, proud to have him as my 8th grade principal at Tappan junior High. On the first day of 8th grade every 8th graders' locker had a blow pop waiting inside when they first opened it. He kept a lot of us kids on point who were doing everyhting we could to get off point. His am basketball program and the chats when sent to his office were just a few examples of that. he was to qoute another Tappan employee, "one of the good guys".


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 5:45 p.m.

When my kids were in middle school, they both interviewed Mr Jewett about his life in Ann Arbor and wrote a paper on their interview. They talked about what a "cool" guy he was for weeks. From then on, every time they went to the Farmers Market they had to say Hi to Mr Jewett. He will be missed. My condolences to the family.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 5:45 p.m.

A true loss of an A2 icon and role model.

Dog Guy

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 5:43 p.m.

Coleman Jewett was a gentleman and a good teacher. He will be missed until we follow him. I offer prayers for him and for his family.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 5:28 p.m.

My condolances to his family. I will miss seeing him at the Farmer's Market.

Amy Biolchini

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 5:21 p.m.

There are no funeral arrangements scheduled for Coleman Jewett at this time, and I'm working to compile a news obituary. We'll post a more complete story today.