(Training pics are full size; some more recent pictures -- with a bluish outline -- can be clicked to enlarge)


(Bill) McCabe Coolidge
Floyd, VA
1967 Training Biography

William M. Coolidge
Bill, 24, graduated from Michigan State with a B.A. in business administration in 1966 and an M.A. in marketing in 1967. The summer of 1965, he studied at the University of Nigeria. At various times he has worked as a meat cutter, maintenance man, bank teller, and produce manager. Bill is planning a career in the sales-marketing field. Water and winter skiing, basketball, tennis, golf, and swimming, along with reading, are his special interests.  

More Recent

click photo to enlarge

(1) (2)
(1) McCabe Coolidge from a flier about his work: Wildfire Pottery at Studio 124--Jacksonville Center--in Floyd, VA.
(2) McCabe with students "bringing out the character of the pot with blade and brush. Deft cuts and strokes transform a simple shape into a unique statement of creative joy."

and Work

Oruro (July 1967-1968)
TOEFL with University students and RR employee group.
Work with Father Javier at the hogar in Oruro.

The Coolidges resigned from service in 1968. McCabe returned to the states to attend Seminary.


William McCabe Coolidge, goes by McCabe now.

Cathy Coolidge, deceased, Easter Day, 2003 (see Deceased section). She was in poor health for a couple of years, stroke, and hip replacement surgery. We've been divorced since 1993. Mother of Robin, our daughter born 1969, died 1976 of cystic fibrosis. Molly was born 1970 now living in a group home in Chapel Hill, working at a vocational center. Angie we adopted in 1978, now living in Raleigh with her family, working at CISCO.

Cathy taught school in Washington, D.C. after moving to North Carolina and losing her daughter; she went back to UNC and received her MSW in 1979. She worked as a counselor until her death, with offices in Chapel Hill and Chatham County

After Peace Corps, I worked part-time in Washington, D.C. working in race relations while attending seminary at Virginia Theological Seminary. Was active in the peace movement and helped establish a new seminary based on work in the city, not in the library.

Moving to North Carolina, I worked as a market manager at life insurance company while attending Duke Divinity School receiving a degree in theology in 1973 and getting a job at an Episcopal church in Chapel Hill. I began doing organizational consulting on the side while moving to a log cabin with Cathy in Chatham County.

After moving to a church in Cary, North Carolina, Robin died. The chaos was stunning; Cathy and I found an abandoned farm and mill in southern Chatham County, North Carolina and slowly rebuilt the farmhouse, added restored tobacco barns and created a retreat center named Recompense. I worked part-time at a local church, became involved in solar energy projects. Did some spiritual direction and continued working as a consultant to non-profits. We cleared pasture land for an organic garden,
a bevy of goats and a bunch of chickens plus a variety of lost dogs who came across the river and never returned.

I took a sabbatical and built a wooden sailing boat in Beaufort, took another one at the Harvard Summer School of Dance and focused on improvisational dance. I built a dance space at the retreat center for workshops, a little log cabin for Cathy to do her clay work. By 1990, Molly was moving toward a group home and Angie was in college.

1993 was a year where the bottom dropped. My dad died, my marriage ended, I quit my church job, and moved away from the retreat center. I began living and working at St. Catherine' Catholic Worker House in Southside Chicago, a hospice for people who has AIDs. I met my future wife Karen at a dance conference.

In 1995, Karen and I found an old Victorian horne in Asheville, North Carolina where we established a horne for homeless folks with HIV+. I found work as a case manager for the local AID's Project and worked Sundays at a local church. Karen found work as an artist in resident for the mountain region of North Carolina. Together we formed a dance outfit, Leap Of Faith and did workshops in Asheville, Chapel Hill, etc., plus evening sessions in our own home.

In 1998, Karen decided to go to seminary, Berkeley California. I found a sailboat which we lived on in nearby Alameda. I worked both for Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in Berkeley and as the day manager of a homeless shelter in Marin County. Karen found part-time work with the Faithful Fools, a street project for the homeless in the Tenderloin section of San Francisco. I took a writing class and was encouraged to submit my work. I've been published in a variety of joumals, The Sun, Dairy Goat Journal, the New Orleans Review, This Old House, etc.

Moving back east in 2001, Karen worked for Unitarian Universalist church in Greenville, North Carolina. I focused on pottery and volunteering with the local Land Trust and other environmental organizations.

In 2006, we moved to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia where we have opened a gallery/ studio at a local arts center. I sells my pottery along the coast of North Carolina as well as in the southwest mountains of Virginia. Karen is a book maker, a storyteller and works part-time for area UU churches. They host a monthly creativity and work roundtable plus a Friday evening open house for artisans to show their work. We lived in a 600 square foot cabin with a woodstove, bunches of fruit trees and an acre of dying hemlock. We're preparing to start an empty bowls project in Floyd County.

PC In Your Life

I'm glad we went. After one year, the anxiety of not knowing what's next really got to me, the riots, the assinations, the war, I had to do something back here (the USA). What I've taken away is a how-to-way-of life of improvisation.

I think 'community development' is a great concept. Go in, sniff around, see what's needed, do something about it. I've pretty much been led that way most of my life.

Who would have guessed I'd be a potter now, living on a small pension and smaller social security? All that started, fitfully after Robin died, I had nothing to do with my hands, no more percussion therapy. A friend suggested pottery. Since I baked bread, pottery was a great next step. Now it's a passion, I just built a wood kiln.

Peace Corps also taught me to be skeptical about anything the U.S. government puts out, by voice or print. That skepticism has rolled over most institutions. So I guess that keeps me on some kind of edge. Literally up, across the Blue Ridge Parkway from us is Castle Rock Gorge, dropping from 3700 to 1700 feet.

Best/Worst PC Experience

What I remember most from Peace Corps?

  • Hanging out with Kevin.
  • Taking the bus to that small town along the coast of Washington and then what? I loved that experience.
  • Watching the salmon migrate up the stream near the Boy Scout camp.
  • Throwing the Frisbee with Tom, the human relations weekend near the end and Martine walked out. By the way, I became a human relations trainer five years after that, sitting in silence while the group tried to figure out the rules and who was in charge.
  • While camping in Maine in 1971 with a couple of babies, we put up our tent around dinner time and this guy with a beard and the most gleaming eyes strolls over, with a beer in his hand And welcomes us, it was Kevin Lynch! He was working, underground, shuttling draft resistors to Canada.
  • I really enjoyed the training, except the Spanish part and felt quite lonely in Oruro in spite of working at the orphanage, with Don Beck and Cathy around plus Padre Javier.
  • Probably what influenced me the most was moving up the street to San Jerado Catholic Church and getting under the sway of two worker priests there? I didn't expect to be ordained but when it happened I made the decision to just work part-time and be in the community the rest of the time. That's held for all these years.

RPCV Groups

McCabe has worked with the Peace Corps Writer's Group, having published several pieces with them (see Links) and helped review other writings.

In the Future

The Future? Except for a fifteen year on the farm, I've moved every five years or so. But I think I'm going through a shift. We have a trailer at the beach where I have a wooden sailing boat and two kayaks and one crab pot. We have this cabin up here, so I feel pretty well grounded or anchored.

The question of what's next doesn't come up. But then, who knows. I just love it here and have gobs of passion for Karen. What more do I need?

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