Judge David H. Coar was born in Birmingham, Alabama, on August 11, 1943. Coar was the oldest of three children and attended a religious school at the elementary level before graduating from a public high school in 1960. After commencement, Coar went to Syracuse University, earning his B.A. in 1964. In 1969, he earned his J.D. from Loyola University in Chicago, and a year later he received his LL.M. from Harvard Law School.
Coar began teaching at DePaul University in 1974, and remained there for five years. He left DePaul to take a position with the United States Justice Department as a U.S. trustee. Coar returned to DePaul in 1982, where he remained for another four years. In 1986, Coar was named a judge of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, and in 1994 he became a judge of the U.S. District Court of Illinois. Within this role, Coar has ruled on a number of landmark decisions, including his 1999 fining of anti-abortion leaders under RICO statutes, which had been used to prosecute members of the mafia.
Away from his bench, Coar is active in a number of civic and community organizations. He has been active with the Boys & Girls Clubs and serves on its board of directors. Coar also belongs to the American Bankruptcy Institute and is an active member in the National Bankruptcy Conference.