Leigh F. CoffinPassed away: November 10, 2012
Funeral Home: Griffiths-Hovendick Chapel
Lt. Colonel (retired) Leigh F. Coffin, 98 years of age, of Beatrice, NE. passed away Saturday evening, November 10, 2012 at the Beatrice Community Hospital. He was born on July 5, 1914 in a farmhouse near Harbine, Nebraska to Charles L. and Lucretia (Leigh) Coffin. He attended a one room country school through the 8th grade and participated in a number of 4-H activities including Jefferson County Fair and Nebraska State Fair entries. He purchased and used his first shotgun at the age of 8 years old. In 1932, after graduating for Fairbury High School in Fairbury, NE. he was employed as driver and mechanic for Whitney-Junker Transport Company in Fairbury, NE. He was then a mechanic for O.C. Brickell Co. car dealership in Fairbury and was made Used Car Manager in 1938. He started Coffin Motors in 1940. Leigh was then commissioned from a civilian to an officer (2nd Lt.) in the United States Army Ordnance Department on May 8, 1942. He served in Africa, Italy and France from 1943-1946. He came ashore with the initial wave as an Ordnance Supply Officer attached to the 3rd Infantry Division, in southern France on August 15, 1944. Leigh was promoted to Captain while on active duty in southern France as a member of General Ratay’s staff. He remained in the Army Reserves following his discharge from active duty and graduated from Command and General Staff School and retired as a Lt. Colonel.
He returned to Fairbury in 1946 and later that year moved to Beatrice, NE. managing the Chrysler-Plymouth sales and service dealership until 1953. Leigh served Beatrice as Postmaster for 24 years, from March 1, 1954 until he retired on February 28, 1978. He also operated the family farm from 1963 until he sold it in 2006. Leigh's conservation efforts were recognized in 1991 with the Nebraska Outstanding Conservation Award. He was the Secretary/Treasurer of the Beatrice Gun Club from 1951-1971 and was an instructor for gun safety courses. He served as chairman of the Nebraska Centennial Philatelic Committee in 1967. Leigh was active in the Beatrice Chamber of Commerce in the 1960’s and 1970’s. He serviced as President of the Beatrice Chamber of Commerce and then was President of the Beatrice Development Corporation. He played a major role in purchasing the industrial park tract for the Beatrice Development Corporation while serving as President. Leigh served the State and National Postmasters Organization in a number of capacities including National Vice President and Chief Of Staff for National President John Goodman in 1976 & 1977.
He served on the United Way Board of Directors and as the Chairman of the Board. He organized and served as the first president of the Beatrice Chapter of Ducks Unlimited. Leigh was a member of Christ Church Episcopal in Beatrice, NE. and had served a number of years on the vestry as treasurer and as chairman of the Christ Church Foundation. He served on the Advisory Board of the Cody Firearms Museum at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming from 1994 to 2001. He volunteered his services as a firearms researcher during the summer months at the Cody Firearms Museum for ten years. Leigh was an avid hunter, having hunted all across the United States as well as in North Africa, Columbia (South America), Honduras (Central America), England, and Canada. He spent a lifetime dedicated to guns, ammunition, and the shooting sports, with emphasis on shotguns. Leigh is recognized nationally for his firearm research. He and his son have established the Leigh F., Jane M. and Leigh M. Coffin Foundation to provide financial support to charitable organizations in Gage County and those in the immediate surrounding area off into perpetuity.
Survivors include his son Leigh M. Coffin and his wife Marilyn of Boca Raton, Florida; Nephews Charles T. Coffin and his wife Joan of Chicago, ILL., and Robert L. Coffin of Chicago, Ill.; 2 step daughters Carolyn Koester and her husband William of Cary, North Carolina, and Trudy Gutowski of Maple Lake, MN. He was preceded in death by his parents Charles L. and Lucretia (Leigh) Coffin; wives Jane (McKee) Coffin (1974) and Gertrude (McDonnell) Coffin (1991); and brother Arnold L. Coffin.
Funeral services will be held at 1:30 P.M. Thursday, November 15, 2012 at the Christ Church Episcopal in Beatrice, NE. with Reverend Gretchen Naugle officiating. Interment will be in the Beatrice Cemetery (Scott Street) in Beatrice, NE. Military graveside services will be conducted by the Nebraska National Guard Honor Guard Unit from Lincoln, NE. The body will lie in state Wednesday from 10-9:00 and Thursday from 9-12:00 at the Griffiths-Hovendick Chapel in Beatrice, NE. and not at the church. A memorial has been established to the Christ Church Episcopal and the Beatrice Gun Club with the Griffiths-Hovendick Chapel in charge. Sign Leigh's guest book and view his video tribute when completed at www.ghchapel.com. These services have been entrusted to the Griffiths-Hovendick Chapel in Beatrice.