Saint Joseph’s College of Maine is pleased to award the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Public Service to Coleman Gorham at its 2020 Commencement ceremony, which will be held virtually on Saturday, May 9 at 10 am.
Coleman “Coley” Gorham was born in Portland, Maine, in 1918. Following high school, he attended St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, and graduated in 1941 with a BA in Philosophy.
After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Coley enlisted in the United States Navy. He served as an Ensign during the war after graduating from the United States Midshipmen’s School at Columbia University. Later when the Korean War broke out, Coley was called back to duty, and he served as a liaison between the United States Navy, the Peruvian Navy and the Uruguayan Navy. He was discharged in 1954 as a Lieutenant Commander.
Coley earned a Master’s degree in English/American Literature from University of Notre Dame, and a Master’s degree in Psychology from Boston University. Coley taught English and History at schools in Eastport and Mexico, Maine, and he went on to serve as a school psychologist at a high school in Topsfield, Massachusetts.
In 1964, Coley married his wife Anna Lee Gorham, who graduated from Saint Joseph’s College in 1947 when the College was located on Walton Street in Portland.
In 1966 Coley retired from education and went into the construction business, working as a contractor. Over the next twenty years, Coley built homes in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. In the 1980s, Coley and Anna moved to Maine. In the 1990s, they became “snowbirds” and spent winters in Florida. It was at this time when Coley became interested in Haiti.
Over the past twenty years, Coley has built 33 homes for the Haitian people. He also built a church and St. Patrick’s School in Haiti. He has repaired 108 Haitian homes damaged by hurricanes, and he completed an unfinished orphanage project. He also lent his expertise in design and construction of a computer lab for another orphanage.
In 2017, he and Anna, who passed away in January 2020, moved from Portland, Maine, to Birmingham, Alabama, to be near family.