Roodhouse, Winchester Mourn Civic Leaders

By Benjamin Cox on September 8, 2023 at 12:32pm

The Cities of Roodhouse and Winchester are mourning a pair of civic leaders who passed away this week.

In Winchester, Lawrence Coultas passed away on Tuesday night in Springfield. Coultas attended Winchester schools before later graduating from Illinois College and Western Illinois University.

Coultas was a math teacher at Winchester and Jacksonville among other West Central Illinois districts for several years. He also coached basketball. Eventually, Coultas moved up to become principal at Winchester High School and then later ascended to become the district’s Superintendent, where he would remain until his retirement.

After retirement, Coultas would be brought to the North Greene School District on two separate occasions as an interim superintendent to mentor the district’s new hires as permanent superintendent. Most recently, Coultas was brought to North Greene in April to help mentor Jackie Kuchy, a fellow Winchester resident, to become the new superintendent in that district.

During his retirement, if you could call it that, Coultas served a brief stint as Treasurer for the City of Winchester before being elected as alderman to Ward 1 in Winchester in 2017, a position he held until his death.

Mayor Rex McIntire, who proposed a memorial ordinance for Coultas during the Winchester City Council meeting Wednesday night, says his years of service to the surrounding community will likely never be matched. McIntire called Coultas an irreplaceable public servant and dear friend: “I’ve known Lawrence Coultas for over 50 years. He’s the reason I stayed on as mayor. During my first term, about two-and-a-half years in, I was really frustrated. I couldn’t get the city council at that time to listen to any of my agenda of things that I’d like to get done. I wasn’t going to run again, but Lawrence asked me to. He asked if I would run again that he would run for alderman. I would say about 90% of the things I wanted to do, Lawrence would be in agreement with me. He’d make the motion during the council meetings after we talked, and that was a big help. I’m really going to miss him in that regard.”

McIntire says he and his wife both got to be close with Lawrence and his late wife Sherry, who passed away on July 25th – with the couples sharing dinner and outings multiple times over the last several years. McIntire choked up during the unanimous passing of the memorial on Wednesday night. The Winchester City Council also has approved adding a tag line to all of its upcoming advertisements with the West Central Cougar Booster Club to honor Coultas’ memory at all of West Central sports’ home games.

Coultas passed away in Springfield on Tuesday. He was 74. Services for Coultas are Wednesday at Coonrod Funeral Home in Winchester.

In Roodhouse, Mayor Tommy Martin passed away after a battle with an extended illness. He was 69.

Martin, for many that knew him, personified Roodhouse.

Martin was a well-known member of several logistics firms, and was a part of the management that oversaw the liquidation of the Roodhouse Envelope Company in 2010-2011.

He was a member of several local organizations in Roodhouse before winning election as Mayor of Roodhouse in 2013. He would win subsequent re-election in 2017 and 2021.

Along with others, he helped to spearhead efforts to clean up the Roodhouse Veterans’ Monument in the park on the square, oversaw grants, renovations, and revitalization of the Roodhouse Rez, and was ever present at several North Greene schools events.

No information has been released on the selection of an interim mayor. Charlie Huffines of the Roodhouse City Council has been overseeing some of the mayor’s duties during Martin’s illness and hospitalization.

Services for Martin will be held at the North Greene Elementary School gym on Saturday, September 16th, with visitation on Friday evening.