Don Coulter has always been a fighter, didn’t know any other way to roll. Don is the president of SOAR (Steelworker’s Organization of Active Retirees) in Columbus, Ohio. It was only natural that Don be the leader when steelworker retirees decided to set up a SOAR group a few years ago.

Don had been a griever on the job at Kaiser, later a community organizer then a regional leader for ACORN in Columbus. He’s a deacon for his church, part of the APRI group in Columbus and had been a leader as a young man when the civil rights movement had swept the nation. So, when it was announced that there was to be a march in D.C. celebrating the 50th anniversary of the historic 1963 civil rights march on Washington, the one where Dr. King delivered his famous “I Had a Dream” speech, horses couldn’t have kept Don Coulter from being part of it.

Friends said that Don was in his glory at the march, dearly loving every minute. However, as the march began to break up, he suddenly missed a step and just fell like a rock. He was taken to Memorial Hospital in D.C. with a stroke! But this wasn’t just any stroke the family was told, this was one that was an absolute death sentence, one in a part of the brain that was 100 percent, absolutely a killer of the type that not a single human had ever had and recovered from.

“We’ll make him comfortable,” they told the family. “It’s all we can do!”

Without being asked, the Steelworker’s Union (USW) and SOAR immediately picked up the expenses for the family to come to D.C. and let them know that they’d make sure they’d be able to get him home and taken care of going forward. Moreen, Don’s wife, who is a medical professional, his son, Lamar, daughter LaDonna, and brothers all made the trip. They were all staying with Don, hoping, praying, for a miracle, even with all the odds stacked against them.

The doctors came in, met with the whole family, telling them that, while they were doing all they could, they should give up the fight, it was impossible for Don to recover. Later, another doctor came in and pronounced Don deceased, clearing the way for others to remove him so that his organs could be removed (Don is also an organ donor).

However, the family was not ready to give up, no matter what all the experts told them. When the doctors came in to remove him, Don’s daughter, LaDonna, stated, “He is NOT dead! He’s still breathing!”

Moreen saw that, got up and told the medical staff to leave, that “We’ve been together too long and I’m not giving him up now!”

Don’s family made it clear that it would take a fight to take him and it was one that they did not intend to lose! The upshot is that after they chased folks out of the room, Don rolled over and got up!

There’s a lot more I could tell you all, but the bottom line is that Don Coulter is now at a rehab facility north of Columbus, Ohio in the biggest room they’ve got (because so many folks were coming to visit that the regular rooms just wouldn’t hold them). He has begun walking, speaking and is recovering way beyond what anyone thought possible.

This is a wonderful story, a heartwarming one as we prepare for the upcoming holiday season. For regular working folks I think Don’s story has even more to tell us. A couple things are clear! First of all, the love of Don’s family, especially, is why he is still with us. While some talk about “family values,” Moreen and the Coulter family showed us all what that means on a real, human, level.

Second, working folks have been told our whole lives, in millions of different ways that; “There’s no use fighting! It’s a lost cause, you just can’t win!”

Every step that Don Coulter takes on his tough road to recovery, supported by his wife, family, his union and community, tells all the “experts” where they can stick that advice!

Those wanting to send cards, letters of support to Don Coulter and the Coulter family can do so at:

Don Coulter


212 Fairview Ave.

Centerburg, Ohio 43011


Bruce Bostick
Bruce Bostick

Bruce Bostick is a retired steelworker and leader in Ohio Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees.