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David R.'s Story

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David Coffman left his family and friends on Sunday evening, Father’s Day. What needs to be said about an almost 100 year life that was well lived? Maybe the most important things are the lessons to be gleaned by those who loved and respected him.
My father, Pop, said that whatever else, his mother and father, R.B. and Nana, were always “fair." “They tried hard to treat all three of us boys, Tom, Bill, and me, exactly the same.” This was a fundamental lesson that Pop emphasized throughout his life. The playing field should be leveled, each team should have the same number of outs, “it is never over until it is over”, win or lose we will play it again next year, and everyone should have the same chance to learn the game.
“Everything that I have had in this world began at Syracuse University.” Between this mantra and singing the Syracuse alma mater in four-part harmony, Pop, my mother, Barbara Dudley Coffman, my sister, Patricia Long Sorrie, and I had this message firmly entwined in our DNA. He met Barbara Dudley during the orientation program at Syracuse his freshman year. He was humbled by the value of the education that he was privileged to receive at Syracuse. The privilege of having the opportunity to play intercollegiate baseball at Syracuse meant everything to him. The chance to referee freshman basketball games sparked a life long interest in officiating baseball, football, and basketball. The value of loyalty to family, friends, alma mater, and colleagues was fundamental.
Pop was in the Navy during World War II. The size and scope of the war effort was an “eye opener” for him. He already knew the world was big and complex but pacific island beaches had been outside his frame of reference. When his LST landed on Okinawa, he restricted his group of sailors to no more than 100 yards from the ship. “I only cared about all of us coming home safely.”
Pop was a “beverage guy.” His initial work at Coca-Cola, his time working for the Pepsi- Cola parent company, and the excitement of owning and developing his own franchise in Methuen meant so much. First of all, he gave credit to Barbara and the Syracuse education that allowed a broad perspective. Secondly, he gave credit to all of those wonderful colleagues that developed the franchise with him. “I am the luckiest man in the world. To think that I was lucky enough to have the loyalty and friendship of all those great people.”
Enough cannot be said about both my father and mother’s commitment to education. He was vocal about his belief in the value of a liberal arts education. “There is plenty of time to learn what you need to know for a career in any field. What we need are citizens of the world.” Coming from a home in 1916 with no automobile, no television, where the introduction of a radio was “life changing”, Pop struggled to understand the contemporary world. This did not stop him from learning and working to understand as best he could.
What needs to be said about an almost 100 year life that was well lived? Fairness, loyalty, the unequivocal value of education, care for others, recognize all of those folks that help and support you along the way, and be a citizen of the world is all that needs to be said. Play ball!
It was his wish that, in lieu of flowers, donations should be made to the Deerfield Community Church, P.O. Box 420-15 Church Street, Deerfield, NH 03037 (603-463-7734). A memorial service will be held at the church on July 10, 2016 at 11 a.m. If you have any memories or digital pictures that you would like included in the video presentation, please email them to: rememberingdavidrcoffman@gmail.com.
Published on  June 30, 2016
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