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Regina Coakley Dessauer

July 22, 1952 — April 9, 2024

Regina Coakley Dessauer

Regina Coakley Dessauer, 71, of Kingsport, died at her home on Tuesday, April 9, 2024, after a long battle with dementia.  Born in Philadelphia, PA, she has resided in Kingsport for the past 28 years.  She was a graduate of St. Cecilia Academy in Nashville and earned a Bacher of Science Degree in Special Education from the University of Tennessee.  Gina worked for 12 years teaching and rehabilitating mentally challenged adults in the Nashville area.  In that role, she earned the respect and admiration of her colleagues and was devoted to the patients she served.

Gina then transferred her talents and skills to the political arena.  She served as the Davidson County Coordinator for Ned McWherter’s campaign for governor in the Democratic primary and general election.  She later served in the McWherter administration as the Executive Assistant to the Commissioner of General Services, as the Director of Personnel for the Department of Revenue and as a legislative liaison.  After her time in the McWherter administration, she worked as a lobbyist with The Fulton Group, a leading Nashville lobbying firm.  She was known for her knowledge on numerous complex issues and worked diligently to achieve compromise and solutions for the benefit of her clients. On April 21, 1994, the Tennessee General Assembly honored Gina with a Joint Resolution commending her meritorious service to Tennessee State government and devotion to public service.

In 1996, Gina or “Beano” as she was affectionately known by her family and friends married Mark and moved to Kingsport where they raised three children:  Julia, William, and Samantha.    Gina participated and was present in all activities involving her children during their youth: school plays, school concerts, parent/teacher association meetings and athletic events.  She also was active with children’s activities with First Presbyterian Church including summer bible school and church retreats. Gina was very proud of her children’s participation in the children’s choir at First Presbyterian and Julia and William’s membership in the orchestra in middle and high school.   She had a way with children, always making them feel important, confident and that they each had value.   Her later years were spent supporting her children’s happiness and wellbeing.  Gina’s children and her rather large family were the center of her universe.

After hurricane Katrina, Gina trained with the Red Cross and once certified, she traveled frequently to Louisiana and Mississippi and led by her heart, she  aided and comforted the victims of the hurricane.  She was also an active supporter of an orphanage located in Cambodia and traveled there to meet the orphans who thereafter corresponded and expressed their gratitude for the love and kindness that she extended to them. There are other examples too numerous to list, where she dropped everything to help, cook a meal or care for a family member, friend or anyone in need. She was present with her family in both times of joy and times of need.  Gina had the true heart of a servant.  She was selfless and devoted to serving and bringing happiness and joy into the lives of others.

Gina was an active member and supporter of the Democratic party.  Her interest in politics, however was not power based, but to use her energy to promote the removal of racial and cultural barriers in our society and to provide equal economic opportunities to all.  She, with her children, regularly attended Kingsport’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. candlelight vigil.  It gave her great personal satisfaction. One of Gina’s proudest political moments was attending the inauguration of Barack Obama in Washington DC on January 21, 2009. The love, kindness and empathy that was shown by the attendees to each other, despite the bitter cold, and the words of the new President greatly inspired her and for Gina it was akin to a spiritual experience.  She was a true believer of President Obama’s message of hope.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Joseph A. and Jeanne Coakley; brother, William Coakley;  nephew, Charlie Houston; and her loyal and faithful dog, “Scooby”.

Gina is survived by her husband Mark and children, William of Charleston, SC, Julia of Kingsport and Samantha of Denver, CO; grandchildren, Gabriel Smith and Londyn Dessauer; sisters, Catherine Coakley Belisle of Glen Ridge, NJ, Anne Coakley Houston (Steve) of Dundin, FL, and Jeanette Coakley Evans (David) of Charleston, SC; sister-in-law, Kim Coakley of Nashville, TN; and numerous nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews.

A Celebration of Life will be held at 2:00 pm on Saturday, April 20, 2024, at First Presbyterian Church of Kingsport with Dr. Mike Shelton and Rev. Sharon Amstutz officiating. The family will receive friends at the church following the service.

A special thanks to Gina’s hospice nurses and Chris Egbert with Comfort Keepers.

Memorial contributions can be made to the Regina Coakley Dessauer Scholarship Fund, St. Cecelia Academy, 4210 Harking Pike, Nashville, TN 37205.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Regina Coakley Dessauer, please visit our flower store.

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Saturday, April 20, 2024

2:00 - 3:00 pm (Eastern time)

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