December 1, 2006

Clarissa Ellen Coffey

Clarissa was the third and last child that I have found that was born to Drury Dobbins and Harriet Elizabeth Collett. She was born Sep. 24, 1868 in Lenoir, Edgefield Co., NC and died Mar. 1, 1939 in Portland, Multnomah Co., OR

She married Dr. Robert Calvin Coffey, her second cousin and a son of Patterson Vance and Nancy Martisha Estes Coffey. Robert was born Oct. 20, 1869 in Lenoir, Edgefield, Co., and died on Nov. 9, 1933 in a plane crash neat Portland, OR. He was 64 years old.

An article in Time magazine, in partnership with CNN reproduced the following article from the Nov. 1933 issue of the magazine Aeronautics:

"With fearful vengeance the Law of Averages proceeded last week to settle its score against United Air Lines. In 40 million miles of flying, no passenger had been killed in a multi-motored plane of United until last month when a ship was blown up on the New York-Chicago route (TIME, Oct. 23).* Last week near Portland, Ore. another United plane of the same new type crashed into a hillside in a fog. Pilot and three passengers were killed. Copilot, stewardess and four passengers survived.

Fog lay thick around the Portland airport, situated on an island in the Willamette River, when the ship took off for its run down the coast to San Francisco. Among the passengers was Dr. Robert Calvin Coffey, Portland surgeon famed for his work with cancer.† Across from him sat his assistant, Dr. John Straumfjord, with whom he was flying to Medford, Ore. to operate on a colleague. Leaving the airport the pilot circled gingerly up through the fog, edging perilously near the hills which rise abruptly to the west. Suddenly a wing tip gouged a tree on the hilltop. Down the ship crashed. It broke apart, caught fire. In an instant Stewardess Libby Wurgaft had the cabin door open. Four times she entered the blazing cabin, each time helped bring out an injured passenger. But nobody could save Dr. Coffey and the other two passengers on his side of the cabin. All three were killed by the crash.

* Fortnight ago Department of Justice agents said they were convinced that an underworldling had traveled in the plane several days before the crash, had concealed an explosive among the blankets in the plane's lavatory, for fear he would be searched at his destination. The explosive lay among the blankets until it fell to the floor.

† No kin of San Francisco's Dr. Walter Bernard Coffey, he addressed the American College of Surgeons last month on his method of draining the kidneys through the intestines in cases of cancerous bladder, and on his "surgical quarantine" of healthy tissue during treatment."

Robert and Clarissa had four children:

- Dr. Jay Russell Coffey, born May 31, 1896 in Idaho, died Mar. 9, 1985 in Warrenton, Clatsop Co., OR. He married Josephine Richardson c1915 in OR. She was born c1897 in TX, and died Oct. 19, 1934 in Portland, OR. They had three children: Jay, Jr., born May 31, 1915, died Jun. 1978; Thomas R., born c1917; and John Fellows, born c1919.

- Wilson Bryan Coffey, born c1898 in Idaho, died Sep. 1, 1959 in Lane Co., OR. He married Marjorie Campbell on Sep. 15, 1920 in Multnomah Co., OR. She was born Apr. 8, 1900 in Washington state, and died Nov. 2, 1995 in Pierce Co., WA. Their children were Joan C., born c1925 and Mary E., born c1927. There were probably others that I have not yet found.

- Robert Mayo, born Dec. 18, 1906, died Sep. 12, 1972

- Herbert Spencer - no other information.

Additions and/or corrections are requested.

Update, Jan. 1, 2013:  It seems that prior to her death in 1934, Josephine Richardson Coffey gave birth c1931 to a fourth son.  That child, Joel R. Coffey, was still living in OR and was mentioned in the obituary of his brother, retired Marine Corps Lt. Col. John Fellows Coffey.  Col. Coffey died on Jul. 26, 2000 in Norfolk, VA and is buried in Chesapeake, VA at the Churchland Baptist Church Cemetery.  Joel appears as a nine-year old with his father and step-mother Martha Handley Coffey in the 1940 Portland, Multnomah Co., OR census.

According to his WW2 draft registration card, Dr. Jay Russell Coffey was born on Jun. 24, 1894 in Moscow, Latah Co., ID.  Josephine Richardson was born May. 3, 1896 in TX.

Jay Russell Coffey, Jr., was born May 31, 1915 and died Jun. 15, 1978 in Portland.  He is buried at River View Cemetery in Portland.  His military marker tells us that he was a Captain in the US Army during WW2.

Dr. Jay's second son was Thomas Richardson "Tom" Coffey, born Oct. 15, 1917, died Jun. 24, 1944.  He is buried at River View as well.  His military marker tells us that he was a First Lt. in the 4th Marine Division during WW2.  In June of 1944 the 4th Marines were engaged in taking and cleaning up the island of Saipan.  Tom was awarded the Silver Star as well as The Purple Heart medals.  He was unmarried.

Third son was John Fellows Coffey, mentioned above.  He enlisted in the US Marine Corps on Sep. 12, 1940 and retired on May 31, 1966 at Marine Corps Headquarters in Arlington, VA.  He was twice awarded the Bronze Star medal for Valor, the Navy Commendation Medal, three Presidential Unit Citations and the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with 12 stars.  Each star represents participation in a major campaign; there were 48 in the Pacific by the Navy and Marine Corps.


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