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Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014

Richard E. Coffey

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

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Richard E. Coffey age 87, passed away peacefully at home Monday, Dec. 6 in South Bend. Dick was born July 1, 1923 in Terre Haute to the late Belle (McCrary) and William Joshua Coffey, who had lived in South Bend since 1961, coming from Chicago, Ill. On July 5, 1947, in Chicago, he married Jean McArthur who survives. Also surviving are two daughters, Emily Ann Coffey and Jean Fairbanks (Mark) both of South Bend; two sons, Richard A. Coffey (Deborah Raab) of Indianapolis and Thomas O. Coffey (Suzanne) of Dalton: nine grandchildren, Richard A., Margaret, Emily, Spencer, Dylan, and Elizabeth Coffey, Zachary A. and Adam M. Bell, and Chandler A. Fairbanks; two great-grandchildren, Richard Aiden Coffey and Sloane Coffey and a brother, Jack O. Coffey (Harriet) of Galveston.

Coffey was the youngest of three siblings, including June Eiteljorge who died in 1998 and Jack. Dick attended high school in Greencastle, where he earned all-state honors in basketball and the nickname "Bearcat". Upon graduation he received a basketball scholarship to Michigan State University in East Lansing to study pre-med, but left to enter OCS after the United States declared war on Japan. On December 3, 1943 Dick became an Officer and a Gentleman. Serving with the 7th Army Air Corps, one of "Kelly's Kobras", at age 19, he was the youngest squadron navigator in the South Pacific and flew 43 missions in his B-24 Liberator "The Lady K." Decorated for bravery on numerous occasions, Coffey received the Bronze Star and Distinguished Flying Cross, America's second highest military award, which he received for extreme gallantry and risk of life in combat with the enemy. After the war Dick returned to college and graduated from DePauw University. Turning down an offer to become a head basketball coach, he married Jean and went to work for the American Tag Company in Chicago. His first child, Richard Alan, was born in New Orleans, La. in 1950. Shortly thereafter the family moved to Memphis, Tenn. and two more children, Thomas O'Neal and Emily Ann were born in 1952 and 1953, respectively. Leaving the American Tag Company, Dick took a position as assistant vice-president with Commercial Factors, taking him and the family to residences in St. Louis, Mo. and Evanston, Ill. where he began work for Walter E. Heller and Company. The family moved to Deerfield, Ill. where his lifelong passion for sports allowed him time to manage and coach his beloved little league team, "The Big O's". He finally moved to South Bend in 1961 when he took a position as senior vice-president of commercial lending with The Associates. In 1964, daughter Jean was born. His position at The Associates allowed him influence in Indiana politics and access to Notre Dame athletics. Dick started and served as the first head coach of the men's basketball program at Indiana University South Bend in 1973 and he was also a huge supporter of Riley High School athletics.

Dick's unflagging energy and desire to help translated to a number of young adults attending college. From Associates he moved to First Bank and Trust Company, where he served as vice-president until 1978 when he formed his own advertising agency. He then purchased and eventually sold an auto dealership and van conversion company, finally retiring in 1985. While retired, Coffey stayed busy forming CFS, Inc. and was involved in financial consulting until his death. As the day would come to an end, Richard "Eloquent" Coffey would say, "Over and out...Rodger-dodger...Say good night, Dick!"

The family will receive friends in the Welsheimer Family Funeral Home, 521 N. William St., South Bend on Friday, Dec. 10 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Private family graveside services will be held at Riverview Cemetery in South Bend. In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to the American Diabetes Association (JDRF) where envelopes will be available at the funeral home. Family and friends may leave e-mail condolences at www.welsheimer.com.