John "Toby" Coates, 94, a pastor for almost 67 years, died Tuesday, Dec. 11, at St. Mary Manor, a health-care facility in Lansdale.

Mr. Coates, pastor emeritus at St. Helena Parish in Blue Bell, was born Feb. 17, 1918, in Philadelphia. Upon graduating from Northeast Catholic High School, he entered St. 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 SS. Peter and Paul, Mr. Coates served as chaplain at the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution at Graterford for 23 years. He was appointed pastor at St. Helena Parish in June 1974 and retired in June 1993.

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

An outdoorsman who enjoyed golf, fishing, and skiing, Mr. 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 nephews, Andrew A. and Lawrence J. Coates, and a niece, Mary Jane Larson.

Funeral services begin at 9 a.m. Monday, Dec. 17, at St. Helena Church, 1489 Dekalb Pike, Blue Bell, followed by a viewing and an 11 a.m. Mass of Christian Burial. Burial will be at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Glenside.