November 22, 2009

Charles Finley Coffey

The following was contributed by Dave Engstrom, husband of a daughter of Charles Finley Coffey.

Charles Finley Coffey was born in St. Paul. His parents lived in St. Paul and also had a summer place they spent a lot of time at just north of St. Paul. Charles and Dorothy Danz were married in La Jolla California, I do not have the exact date but I believe it was about 1946. They were divorced after the fifth child was born in about 1961 or 1962. It was a bitter divorce and most of the kids had little contact with their Dad. The oldest daughter and my wife both kept in touch with him after he moved to Arizona and remarried. I was fortunate to get to know him and really enjoyed him. My mother in law really has little memory of the date of the marriage ( or does not want to remember.) Charles Finley Coffey is buried in Arizona. His second wife - Barabara Thurston - was a widow and originally from Anoka Minnesota. I believe she is still alive and would be in her late 80's. We have had little contact with her after my father in laws death. My wife was very upset when we recieved a Christmas card from her with a note that David Coffey, her son (and my wife's half brother) with Charles Finley Coffey had died in the past year. We never recieved any notice of his death other than that. As I mentioned in an earlier note David Coffey was a downs syndrome child.

I got to know Charles Finley Coffey pretty well. My wife and I enjoyed taking a winter vacation to Arizona and would stay with him and his wife Barbara and son David. I have many good stories about him. Charles Finleys father Daniel Sylvester was the Minnesota State Handball champion for several years. I guess that was quite the competitive sport back then. The Coffeys lived in a beautiful large brick home in a very nice area on Lexington Avenue in St. Paul. They also owned a large apartment building next door. In the 1930's when Charles Finley was about 12 or 13 there was a shootout in the aprtment building. The police and FBI found out that John Dillinger was living with a girlfriend in the building. Dillinger got away but the building had all kinds of bullets in the walls. Charles Finley Coffey dug out all the bullets and sold them for 5 bucks apiece as "Bullets fired at Dillinger". Not bad income during the depression. After he ran out of bullets he got ahold of one of his dad's hand guns and bought some amunition, went down to the cellar of the building and shot bullets into a post. After he dug them out he continued to sell "Bullets fired at Dillinger".

After Charles Finley's mother Daisy died Charles inherited the whole estate being an only child. His wife Dorothy thought this would be rather nice, they would be pretty well established and be able to help out their kids. But Charles had some other ideas and bought a cabin on a lake with several hundred acres, sports car and an airplane (he was an Army Air Corp pilot in WW2). He pretty much had fun with the money. That was 1959 and the divorce was in 1961 or 62.

Frank and Ethel (Herdlick) Danz were married in the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul Minnesota. Once again I don't have the exact date but believe it was in May or June of 1917. The Danz family was a very prominent family in St. Paul. Frank was a long time attorney and the youngest of 9 children. His father, also Frank J. Danz, was the founder and first conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra. Both Frank and Ethel died and are buried in Riverside California.

Paul Danz, twin of Dorothy joined the Trappist Monestary upon his return from WW2. Paul Danz is buried at the Assumption Abbey in Ava, Missouri.

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