Dr. Fred Coy

It is with great regret that we report the passing of the first president of ESRARA, Dr. Fred Coy, on January 10, 2014. Dr. Coy was not a professional archaeologist but rather an orthopedic surgeon with an abiding love of Native American rock art. This passion led him to seek out and document Native American rock art sites within his native state of Kentucky over a period of over 50 years. Fred, along with Tom Fuller, James Swauger, and Larry Meadows, synthesized the results of this research into an outstanding volume entitled “The Rock Art of Kentucky” published by the University Press of Kentucky in 1997. This book, which  remains one of the best examples of a regional rock art study produced to date, did much to help revitalize the study of Native American rock art in the eastern United States.


Fred and his wife Emily were a fixture at ESRARA, Society for American Archaeology (SAA), and Southeastern Archaeological Conference (SEAC) meetings for many years. Visiting and going out to dinner with them  was always one of the highlights of any of these meetings. I (along with many others) still remember the time at a SEAC meeting that Fred showed an absolutely hysterical episode of “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood” from the 1960s or 1970s in which James Swauger took Mr. Rogers to look at a rock art site in Ohio.  I can guarantee that more people remember Fred’s showing of that video than any other presentation they may have attended at those same meetings.

Even into his late 80s and 90s, when he was in ill health, Fred still visited as many rock art sites as he could as part of various ESRARA tours held in Illinois, Alabama, Arkansas, and other locations. This year’s ESRARA meeting, which is going to be held at Natural Bridge State Park in Kentucky, was specifically intended to honor Fred as well as marking the 30th anniversary of the organization (ESRARA) that he helped found. In closing, all I can say on the part of those of us who had the pleasure to know Fred over the past 30 or more years, is that his presence will be sorely missed. The Natural Bridge conference as well as all future ESRARA meetings simply will not be the same without him. To his wife Emily, who survives him, we extend our deepest sympathies.


Mark J. Wagner

President, ESRARA