BY PHIL HARTMAN
Few people can make their lifelong interest support themselves and their family, but John Coy did.
Born in Oregon, the son of Henry and Stella (Zmuda) Coy, John enjoyed listening to the stories his World War II veteran father shared about the global conflict. When he grew up, his collection of war memorabilia became the basis for his business, the Stuka Military Museum, in Oregon.
"These are the guys who kept America free as it is now. So I decided to put up the displays so that everybody could see the uniforms they wore, the souvenirs they brought and the different wars they were in," John told the newspaper in February 2002.
The museum opened in 1990, on Daysville Road; it had military uniforms, hats, medals, insignias, helmets and other items from the Civil War to Operation Desert Storm. American, Nazi, British, Scottish, Australian and many other nations' military artifacts also are preserved there.
"He was dealing with the military for about 22 years before he opened the museum," said his son, Jeremy Coy, of Oregon.
John P. Coy died Sunday at Oregon Health Care Center of liver cancer; he was 64.
The collection that formed the basis of the museum was begun during John's honeymoon with his wife, Rena, in Poland. He was in an antique shop in Warsaw when he found a peculiar German hat, and kept purchasing military items while researching the hat's origins. John's research led him to connect with many historians in the United States and overseas, and his attention to detail led him to being credited in more than 20 military collectible books.
"He just enjoyed visiting and he enjoyed veterans. He had the gift of gab," Rena Coy said.
John often attended flea markets, antique malls and gun and military shows for collectibles. He also liked to fish along the Rock River, but military collecting was his passion.
"He did what he wanted to with his life, and how many of us can say that?" Jeremy Coy said.
The Coy family still is deciding the museum's future.