Born in New Orleans in 1941, James J. Coleman Jr. attended Princeton University, where he earned a BA in 1963. He studied law at Oxford University, and earned a JD degree from Tulane University in 1968. Mr. Coleman is the former chairman of International Matex Tank Terminals (IMTT), a family-run company engaged in the handling, storing and transshipping of bulk liquids such as petroleum, vegetable oils, liquid fertilizer and other chemicals. He is also managing partner of the New Orleans law firm Coleman, Johnson & Artigues, and president of Coleman Development Company. He was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1986, and has been recognized with the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s President’s Medal for Lifetime Achievement in 2010 and the US Coast Guard Spirit of Hope Award in 2012. He serves on the board of the US Navy League, New Orleans, and the International Yacht Restoration School in Newport, Rhode Island.
Mr. Coleman has had a lifelong interest in sailing, yachting and fishing. He is a longtime member of the New York Yacht Club, the Southern Yacht Club in New Orleans, and the Ida Lewis Yacht Club in Newport, Rhode Island, and recently he was made a member of the Royal Nassau Sail Club in The Bahamas. He started sailing with a 5.5 meter Luders boat in New Orleans, and his last project was restoring the Blue Dolphin, a 50-year-old Beale’s Island lobster boat. His fascination with the maritime industry began at the age of seven; his grandfather, a Crescent City river pilot, took him along on piloting jobs. Recalls Mr. Coleman: “[He] would take me with him on his trips down to Pilot Town at the mouth of the Mississippi River and we would sleep there and he piloted the ships for 90 miles to New Orleans. I heard all of the stories how it was bringing ships up the river before radar.”
Mr. Coleman has dedicated himself to honoring the US Coast Guard; he has served on the Coast Guard Foundation board since 1997 and his committee service has included the executive committee, the grants review committee, the investment committee, and the special events committee. As chairman of the National Coast Guard Museum Association, founded in 2001 to raise funds for and oversee the construction of a museum honoring the US Coast Guard in New London, Connecticut, he is working to bring a national museum to a reality. The deed to the property was signed and a ceremonial groundbreaking was held at the museum’s site on New London’s waterfront in May 2014. The National Coast Guard Museum Association intends that the project, once completed, will be “a celebration of over two hundred years of service to the country, a salute to the courage and skill of the men and women of the Coast Guard, and a glimpse into an exciting and vital future.”
For his remarkable efforts and successes in supporting the US Coast Guard and leadership in the establishment of the National Coast Guard Museum, NMHS recognized James J. Coleman Jr. with the NMHS Distinguished Service Award.