December 1, 2006

Finley Hezekiah Coffey

Finley Hezekiah Coffey was a son of Drury Dobbins and Harriet Elizabeth Collett Coffey. He was born Apr. 20, 1861 in Caldwell Co., NC and died Aug. 4, 1943, also in Caldwell Co. He married Rose Frieze, who was born Apr. 7, 1866 and died Jun. 15, 1948.

Together, Finley and Rose had at least five children:

- M. Irene, born c1895
- Herbert Frieze, born unknown
- Harold F., born c1899
- Ethyl, born c1901
- Daniel Archie, born Jun. 10, 1904, died Jun. 21, 1960

Finley was the first chairman of the Caldwell Co. Board of Public Welfare, and one of the county's most prominent citizens. A 1942 article described Finley:

“Finley H. Coffey, president of the Kent-Coffey Manufacturing Company, prominent in the manufacturing, banking and government interests of Caldwell County, was born in this county, the son of the late Drury D. and Harriet Collett Coffey, both of whom were natives of Caldwell....When he was twenty-two he opened his own store in this area, operating it until 1887 when he came to Lenoir and established a general store where Efird’s is now located.

About seven years later Mr. Coffey went to Kansas and took over the management of a farm owned by his father. In 1907 he returned to Lenoir, and he, with others, founded the Kent-Coffey Manufacturing Company.

Active in the civic affairs of Lenoir and Caldwell County , Mr. Coffey has served a number of terms on the board of aldermen of the city of Lenoir ; was chairman of the county draft board during World War I, and was for many years a member of the Board of County Commissioners, serving as chairman for some time. He was a member of this board until 1928 when he entered the State Legislature where he served on the Finance Committee.

At present Mr. Coffey is president of the Kent-Coffey Manufacturing Co., president of Union Mirror Co., president of Union National Bank, vice-president of Mutual Building and Loan Association, chairman of the County Welfare Board, Vice-chairman of the State School for the Deaf and chairman of the building committee. He is also a member of the Knights of Pythias and the Kiwanis Club and an active member of the Presbyterian Church.

To Mr. Coffey, perhaps more than any other living citizen, Caldwell County is indebted for much of the progress made during recent years. During his term as a member of the county Board of Commissioners he was instrumental in establishing the Bureau of Vital Statistics in Caldwell County and in doing away with the indebtedness of the county and placing it once more on a sound financial basis. When he became a commissioner there were only two jobs in the county outside the actual operating force in the courthouse, and these were a Farm Demonstrator and one Welfare Worker. During his administration the county was given a well-rounded administrative force.

The wide diversity of Mr. Coffey’s interests are well demonstrated in the offices which he holds today, and Lenoir and Caldwell County are indeed fortunate in having such a citizen as Mr. Finley H. Coffey.”

Mr. Coffey was still in office at the time of his death at age 82 in 1943. Minutes of the Caldwell County Welfare Board meeting after his passing refer to him as "the beloved Chairman."

Input concerning Finley and Rose's marriage date and place, or their burial sites, as well as other pertinent information on their children may contact me via e-mail.

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