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Coley, Jr., Harry Mead

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July 20, 1939 - August 13, 2014

Coley, Jr., Harry Mead

Harry Mead Coley Jr. visited Wild About Harry’s, the popular custard and hot-dog shop he and his wife owned on Knox Street, each Thursday to meet and greet customers. It became their night, daughter Sydney Coley-Berglund of Rockwall said. “It got to be a group of people who would come every Thursday night,” she said. “Whoever showed up, it was great.” Coley, 75, died Wednesday of complications from lung cancer, Coley-Berglund said.

The public is invited to Wild About Harry’s from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday August 14, 2014 to celebrate his life. A wake and visitation will be held on Sunday, August 17, 2014 from 2:30 to 5 p.m. at the Chapel of the Cross, 4333 Cole Avenue, Dallas, TX 75205.  A Funeral Service will be Monday August 18, 2014 at 10:30 a.m., also at the Chapel of the Cross.  

“I’ve heard from so many people who have said he was like the grandpa they’ve never had, and it just broke my heart because my kids were so lucky to have him,” Coley-Berglund said. “But I’m so glad he was there for other people to have that little piece of home and comfort.” Coley was born July 20, 1939, in Hollis, Okla., to Harry Mead Coley Sr. and Sarah Frances Coley, and went to high school in Hollis, Coley-Berglund said. He attended the University of Oklahoma, where he played on the baseball team, according to his store’s website.

Coley married Lana Coley, his high school sweetheart, in 1959. They recently celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary.  The Coleys moved in the late 1960s to Dallas, where he worked as a salesman for the Leslie Fay Co., an apparel business, for more than 30 years, his daughter said.  The Coleys opened Wild About Harry’s in 1996. In the beginning, the shop sold two flavors of custard (using his mother’s recipe) and four styles of gourmet hot dogs. Today, the store has more than 50 custard flavors and 10 kinds of hot dogs.  Coley told The Dallas Morning News in 1996 that he and his wife came up with the idea for the store after he left the clothing business and they began traveling the country.  “We went to Florida and tasted custard, and we thought, ‘Why can’t we try this?’” his wife told The News.  On opening day, the store sat empty, employee Austin Rucker recalled Coley saying.  “He bowed his head and said, ‘Oh gosh, I hope I’m doing the right thing,’” Rucker said.  Time proved that he had. Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman is among the Dallas celebrities who have come in from time to time over the years, Rucker said.  Coley worked at Wild About Harry’s every day until May, making appearances to reminisce with regulars and to talk with kids who came in for custard, Coley-Berglund said.  “He was always just looking for the good in people, even when they came in mad or were having a bad day,” she said. “I think that’s what the store is about. He’d say, ‘Hey it’s not that big of a deal. Just be cool.’”  Plans to open a Wild About Harry’s in Deep Ellum later this year are still in the works, Coley-Berglund said.  Coley is survived by another daughter, Kelly Bridgman of Norfolk, Va.; a son, Harry “Mead” Coley III of Dallas; his sister, Mary Morgan of Rockwall; and three grandchildren.

Arrangements are under the direction of:
ARIA Cremation Service & Funeral Home
10116 E. NW Highway
Dallas, Texas 75238

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Markie George

August 16, 2014 7:27AM

Lana, Sydney and family, I am so sorry to hear of Harry's passing. May God bless you aa and give you strength during this time. Harry was a fun guy and a great neighbor on Woodpark.
Markie George, Jana and Rachel

Ed Lee

August 15, 2014 10:43AM

On behalf of the YMCA of South Hampton Roads, we express our deepest sympathy for Kelly Bridgman,her Mom and her entire family for the loss of her Dad. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all. I personally had the opportunity to meet Mr. Coley and he was very warm and friendly with a infectious smile. May God comfort you all in your memories of such a beloved family man.
With deep sympathy,
Ed Lee
YMCA Chaplain