Muskoka Mosaic: Greener pastures
Introducing Bill Coon
HUNTSVILLE – His love of running a family business is a fondness that was quietly instilled during his childhood.
Triathlons to show tunes.
Bill Coon may be a name many in the community are familiar with, from his work as a pharmacist and volunteer. But what they don't know about is his love for show tunes. Read more on this quirk below.
Photo by Mandi Hargrave
Growing up in Caledonia, Bill Coon was aware his paternal grandfather was a pharmacist but never really took an interest in it until his final year of high school, when he discovered an enjoyment for mathematics and chemistry.
Until then, a young Coon was content working on a farm. He bought his first cow when he was nine and continued to work on his maternal grandfather’s beef farm until he was 20.
“I bought some cattle and had a herd of my own and that endeavor eventually paid for my university, but it also helped me decide there was no way I was going to be a farmer,” said Coon. “I loved working on the farm. It was good, honest, hard work but they (my grandparents) were completely tied to the farm. They had no days off, no holidays and that’s what cemented it.”
Reverting to his love of math and chemistry, Coon headed to the University of Toronto to pursue a career as a pharmacist.
He met his wife, Barb, during their first year in the program and Coon spent a hopeful six months wooing her before she agreed to a date.
“I just wouldn’t go away, I wasn’t charming or anything,” he said with a laugh.
The two went on to date for several years before getting married in 1987. One of their favourite pastimes was canoeing and camping in Algonquin Park.
After getting married the couple couldn’t decide where they wanted to set up a practice, but their love for the area prompted Coon to answer an ad for a pharmacist position in Gravenhurst.
In 1990 the couple moved to Huntsville and became business partners with Paul Whitehead at the Muskoka Medical Remedy’s Pharmacy.
“What we found is that Barb’s strengths are often the characteristics I’m weakest at and vice versa. Both in pharmacy (program) and business we team up well together.”
The Coons have two children, Brett and Meghan, who are both in university.
“Huntsville’s absolutely gorgeous. A beautiful spot to live and a great place to raise a family,” he said. “The people we’ve met, both professionally and socially, are second to none.”
Coon has been involved with the Terry Fox Run for a number of years and has been organizing the Huntsville race for the past six years.
“Since Terry died and the run started, no matter where I was physically in my career, doing the run became an important event every fall,” he said. “There’s something that struck me about that young man and I’m just happy to be a part of it each year.”
One of his biggest regrets is passing on the opportunity to see Fox during his run.
“His route brought him within 20 minutes of my home. That day I was off work, I wasn’t doing anything special and I chose not to go see him. I wish I could have that day back and I would play it differently. I live with that regret.”
Now, he’s delighted to be part of continuing to help Fox’s legacy.
“Every year I leave the run site after everything’s cleaned up and it’s all said and done and I feel nothing but fierce pride about our community. How all of these volunteers just give so much, whether it’s financial or their time; Huntsville’s pretty special for that,” said Coon.
He’s also a member of the board of directors for Hospice Huntsville.
“This community has given me so much satisfaction on so many levels that it’s just one little way I can kind of give back a little something,” he said. “I think community involvement is probably one of the main things that makes Huntsville so special. We know we’ve got something special here and it’s because certain people with certain interests volunteer and promote their interests and help others get involved.”
While many people in the community may be familiar with Coon, his love for Broadway show tunes likely comes as a surprise.
“I absolutely love Broadway show tunes,” he said. “I’m a little embarrassed by that, but I do.”
Where this love comes from, he’s not sure. His wife hates them.
“I almost had to go see Mama Mia on my own,” he laughed.
Coon says his claim to fame is competing in the Escape From Alcatraz triathlon for his 45th birthday in 2006.
Participants are taken to the island by ferry and have to swim about 2.4 kilometres back to San Francisco, do a 30-km bike ride and finish with a 12-km run.
“What makes it a novelty race is that the water is daunting, it’s big water churning with currents. But that’s the allure of it, that they say nobody ever successfully escaped from Alcatraz.”
During the swim component, Coon took a couple of opportunities to stop and take in the sights.
“The whole time I was in awe of the whole thing,” he said.
Coon has done a number of triathlons over the years as a recreational pursuit with a group of friends.
“It’s strictly about training with friends and the camaraderie of that,” he said, noting a benefit to having friends to train with is that they’ll make you go out and train even when you’re not feeling up to it.
Throughout his life Coon said he’s learned to treasure his friendships and not take himself too seriously.
Thanks to Rose Evans for recommending Bill Coon for Muskoka Mosaic. If there is someone in the community you’d like to see profiled, contact Mandi Hargrave at 705-789-5541 ext. 285 or email email@example.com.