ESCC Saddened by the Passing of Robin-Rich Coates


Longtime Faculty Member and Leader Will Be Missed

The Eastern Shore community is mourning the loss of beloved teacher, colleague, and leader, Robin Rich-Coates, who passed away on Tuesday, May 10th. She was a retired Professor of Biology and Chemistry at Eastern Shore Community College, member of Phi Theta Kappa, and Chairman of Eastern Shore Soil and Water Conservation District.

To honor her wishes no public services will be held. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Robin Rich-Coates Opportunity Scholarship, c/o Eastern Shore Community College, 29316 Lankford Highway, Melfa, VA 23410.

Online condolences may be sent to the family at

Robin Rich-Coates summed up her love for teaching by using the word “opportunity”. In her 40-year career, she has strived and succeeded in providing students with opportunities for personal and professional growth. Thirty-four of her 40 years have been at Eastern Shore Community College where she promoted student engagement in the classroom and out, helping students find their passion and grow into productive members of society. Her genuine love for teaching was reciprocated by her students who hold her in such high regard.

As an Associate Professor of Biology and Chemistry at ESCC, Robin never turned away from additional roles beyond the classroom. She had also been Assistant to the Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs along with countless other roles both at the college and in the community. She earned a BS in Biology from Madison College (now James Madison University) and a MS in Human Genetics from the Medical College of Virginia, so her dedication and love for the annual ESCC Science Fair was not surprising. She was responsible for expanding the fair to K-12 and has been a driving force in its popularity with students in both counties.

Much of Robin’s teaching was focused on environmental education. She was an elected official serving on the Eastern Shore Soil and Water Conversation District Board since 1990. During the nineties, she was instrumental in starting the popular Arbor Day event where free trees have been distributed annually through the Department of Forestry and local nurseries. After attending an event in Maryland, Rich-Coates was inspired to start the state’s first “Envirothon” on the Eastern Shore.

Robin Rich-Coates accepting chapter honors for PTK in 2017

With a career encompassing work at VIMS, Central High School, and ESCC, Robin smiled no brighter than when she talked about her work with Phi-Theta-Kappa with whom she had served as Faculty Advisor for 28 years. It had been an eventful tenure where she has also served on the International Honors Council and as a Faculty Scholar at the International Honors Institute numerous times. Robin had won many regional and national advisor awards. She had been the Director of the Virginia Regional Honors in Action Academy for the past 25 years. She also served as the Associate Regional Coordinator of the Virginia/West Virginia Region from 2014-2016, when she was named the Regional Coordinator. She was also named one of the top 100 Phi Theta Kappa “Visionaries” in 2018, the Phi Theta Kappa Centennial Year.

Having been voted Teacher of the Year three times, and the recipient of the VCCS Chancellor’s Award for Excellence, Robin Rich-Coates certainly set the bar high for the teaching profession. Her dedication to her students, the college, and the community, was visible every day. Whether she was preparing her famous chili for the annual Heritage Celebration, steering her students through lab projects, or volunteering on numerous committees, Robin’s obvious passion for what she did always shined through.

We end with a picture that captures how we will always remember Robin, teaching and engaging students in the classroom and labs at YOUR Eastern Shore Community College.

Robin Rich-Coates and ESCC students engaged in learning.