John "Toby" Coates, 94 a reverend for almost 67 years, died Tuesday at the St. Mary Manor, a healthcare facility in Lansdale, Pa.

Coates, pastor emeritus at Saint Helena Parish in Blue Bell, Pa., was born Feb. 17, 1918 in Philadelphia. Upon graduating from Northeast Catholic High School, he entered Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood.

The causes of death were chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, dementia and hypertension, said Craig Mann, director of the Mann Funeral Home which is handling the arrangements.

Ordained Dec. 15, 1945 at Philadelphia's Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, Coates served as chaplain at the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution at Graterford for 23 years. He was appointed pastor at Saint Helena Parish in June 1974, and retired in June 1993.

As pastor, Coates had a "hands on" style, according to information provided by the funeral home.

An outdoorsman who enjoyed golf, fishing, and skiing, Coates was a member of North Hills Country Club.

He would pull a mower with a tractor to cut grass, and would split wood for congregation members.

He is survived by two newphews, Andrew A. and Lawrence J. Coates, and a niece, Mary Jane Larson.

Funeral services begin at 9 a.m. Monday at Saint Helena Church, followed by a viewing and an 11 a.m. Mass of Christian Burial. The body will be interred at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.