Kansas concert trip lands Coeme a wife

Savannah Garner

As hard as it may be to believe, better things than waffles have some out of Belgium. Take Missouri Southern’s new Economics instructor, Henri Coeme.

Coeme came to America as a teenager as part of a band called Up With People. While touring the country, his band played at a high school in Kansas. This gig ended up changing his life.

“After the performance, I ran out into the audience and talked to the first girl I saw,” he said. “I married her 10 years later.”

He and his wife, Susan, have six children. The youngest two were adopted from Sri Lanka. Coeme calls this the most influential event of his life.

“We wanted to make sure the children we adopted were really needy,” he said, “and wouldn’t have another chance without us.”

The family has now settled into Pittsburg, Kan. Coeme is happy with his job at Southern, but says it’s not quite what he expected it to be.

“After too many years in the industry,” he said, “I wanted to teach what I thought I knew. So far, it’s tough. I never thought teaching would be so hard.”

But he won’t be quitting on his students.

“I don’t think American kids are on the same level, globally, as other countries,” he said.

Coeme hopes to help his students understand their part in the global community.

“I want them to able to compete in an international job market,” he said. “That’s what I want to pass on to my students.”