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Obituary: J. David Coldren ’65

J. David Coldren, 68, died Sunday, May 2, 2010 at Michigan City, Indiana. After retiring from a career in criminal justice with the State of Illinois and the University of Illinois at Chicago, he was a resident of Tryon Farm, a land preservation community in northwest Indiana.

Born February 17, 1942 in Emporia, Kansas, he was the son of the late John Donald Coldren (1/11/1911 – 5/27/1963) and Olive Jackson Coldren ((2/3/1914 – 7/15/1996). Raised in Topeka, Kansas until 1954 and in Canaan, New York until his graduation from New Lebanon Central School in 1960, Mr. Coldren attended and graduated in 1965 with a BA in Music from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Mr. Coldren began his career as the Associate Director of Development for Antioch College where he assisted in the establishment of several Antioch experiential learning centers that later became Antioch University. He also served as the musical director of the Antioch Area Theatre and manager of the Antioch String Quartet.

In 1970, he was named special assistant to Illinois Governor Richard B. Ogilvie, and led the effort to reorganize and reform the state’s criminal justice system. He subsequently served as a senior policy advisor on criminal justice to three Illinois governors. As the founding Executive Director of the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority under Governor James R. Thompson, Mr. Coldren focused on improving the administration of justice through research, long-range planning, and information technologies. He was elected by his colleagues to two terms as President of the National Criminal Justice Association (NCJA) and served on a number of State and national boards and commissions.

During his terms at NCJA, the organization worked to establish victim assistance and domestic violence prevention programs throughout the country. At his direction, NCJA collaborated with the National Governor’s Association and other national professional organizations to recognize and replicate the many innovative criminal justice reforms that were taking place in the states.

In 1993, Mr. Coldren joined the University of Illinois at Chicago where his research focused on the use of the Internet to promote international understanding of the rule of law. He was a keynote speaker at the United Nations Congress on Criminal Justice and Crime Prevention in Cairo, Egypt and has lectured on criminal justice information technologies in Asia, Africa, and Europe as well as throughout the United States.

He retired from the University of Illinois in 2001, where served as Executive Director of the Office of International Criminal Justice, a non-profit educational organization that brought together senior law enforcement officials from throughout the world to advance the rule of law, publish comparative criminal justice studies, and track terrorist organizations. Mr. Coldren was also an information systems architect who consulted with state and national governments. He resided in Chicago for 30 years before moving to Tryon Farm.

He is survived by his partner Timothy Buckley of Michigan City, Indiana; his sister Janet Coldren Baldwin of Lake Tapawingo, Missouri; his brother J. Fred Coldren of Cape May, New Jersey; 4 nieces, and 4 nephews. A public memorial is planned at Tryon Farm on Sunday afternoon, May 30th at 4:00 p.m. A private graveside gathering will be held at Cemetery of the Evergreens in New Lebanon, New York.