John David Coulter of Little Rock died on April 22, 2022, having lived with lung cancer since January 2020. He was born on April 23, 1966, in Nashville, Ark., to the late Donald Nathan Coulter and the late Dixie Killian Johnson. He is survived by his brothers Donald Nathan (Nate) Coulter, II (Nathalie), Little Rock, and Robert Killian Coulter (Lanette), Nashville, Ark.; step-mother BG Coulter, Waco, Texas; step-sisters Candy Swenke (Steve) and Tracy Van Y (Matt); mother-in-law, Marcia Caplinger, Little Rock; and bonus uncle and aunt, Maurice Webb, Jr., and Kathy Webb.
He is also survived by his wife, Laura Lecky Coulter, Little Rock, and their son, Jonathan Webb Coulter, Boulder, Colo.; his brother-in-law, Paul (Trey) Lecky III, (Nancy), Woodland Park, Colo.; and his sister-in-law, Mauri Lecky Arnold, Tampa, Fla. He will be lovingly remembered by his many nephews and nieces: Caroline, Nathan (Ellen) and Tom Coulter, Aidan Massanelli, Amber Canright (Dee), Arin Dean (Philip), Robert Coulter (Kandace), Samantha and Matthew Lecky, and Rachel, Katherine and Eliza Arnold.
John grew up in Nashville, Ark., where his dad owned a furniture store and his mother taught school. After high school John had several adventures: he worked for Senator Dale Bumpers in Washington, D.C., spent time in Florence, Italy, and traveled the U.S. After a thorough college search, John graduated with a degree in History from Reed College in Portland, Ore., in 1992.
John briefly attended theological seminary at the University of Chicago before deciding to become a lawyer. He graduated with honors from Boston College Law School in 1998 and returned to Arkansas to clerk for U.S. District Judge Billy Roy Wilson. He was a partner at the Rose Law Firm with stops at Kutak Rock and James, Carter and Coulter before becoming a partner at McMath Woods where he continued to practice until the end of December 2021.
John was a strong advocate for a wide range of civil rights and was dedicated to protecting the rights of his clients. He received many honors and awards during both his career and years of volunteer service. In 2008 John was selected as a Rising Star and for 2009-2010, 2013-2021 was selected to Super Lawyers, a peer designation only awarded to a select number of accomplished attorneys in each state. In September 2021, John was elected as a Fellow of The College of Labor and Employment Lawyers which pleased him greatly. He believed that everyone deserved to have legal representation and in 2011 was honored by Volunteers of Central Arkansas Legal Services (VOCALS) as the Pulaski County Pro Bono Attorney of the Year. John served on many boards and committees at First United Methodist Church where he was a long-time member; and, from 2008-2012, he served as Pro Bono Counsel to the Central Arkansas District of the United Methodist Church. John was also a dedicated volunteer with the Little Rock School District, never missing an opportunity to read to a roomful of students or to pitch in where needed.
Over the years John worked alongside outstanding lawyers and counted many of his colleagues as his close friends. While John typically represented employees in disputes against employers, he gained widespread respect among lawyers whose firms more often represented the employer’s side in such disputes. Indeed, he was a “go-to” referral source for those lawyers, who knew John would be a smart and savvy advocate for every client he represented.
As important as his career was to John, he put family first and was home early enough to spend time with Jonathan and Laura. When Jonathan was young John played any kind of ball with him and read to him every night. As he got older and involved with sports, John took him far and wide to attend Razorback games, professional baseball games, MLS matches and it was rare for John to miss a game in which Jonathan played. Parents were undoubtedly grateful there was an amateur meteorologist on the sidelines to keep everyone apprised of impending weather changes.
John loved to take fun trips every summer and would traipse along safely on the ground as Jonathan and Laura would zipline through the trees or roller-coaster the afternoons away. No matter the type of vacation, John always had an ample supply of reading material close at hand as reading was one of his favorite pastimes. During his illness and the pandemic, he and Laura spent many hours reading on their screened-in porch with both Bernese Mountain Dogs by their sides, on their feet or in their laps.
John showed amazing grit and perseverance as he consulted with doctors from UAMS in Little Rock, MD Anderson in Houston, Texas, Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute in Nashville, Tenn., the University of Colorado, Denver, and Dana Farber in Boston, Mass. His determination to live and to give it his all were awe inspiring to his family and friends. He leaves behind a legacy of kindness and generosity toward others, something the world needs more of these days.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making donations in his memory to the Central Arkansas Library System Foundation’s John Coulter Memorial Fund (100 Rock Street, Little Rock AR, 72201). This fund will seek to bring authors on subjects of particular interest to John to the annual Six Bridges Book Festival.
The family would like to thank his many devoted doctors and nurses, especially Dr. Konstantinos Arnaoutakis and Donna Westerman, RN, at UAMS.
Rev. David Freeman and Dr. John Robbins will officiate at his memorial service to be held where John and Laura met in 1998, First United Methodist Church, 8th & Center Streets, Little Rock, AR, on May 16, 2022, at 1 p.m.