March 22, 2010

Dr. Erval Richard Coffey

Dr. Erval R. Coffey*
Erval Richard Coffey, second son of Dr. Richard Nightingale and Mae A. Gano Coffey, was born Dec. 31, 1896 in Jackson Co., MO.

Dr. Richard Coffey was a son of Dr. William A. and Elizabeth Hill Coffey of Madison Co., KY.  Dr. William Coffey was a son of Dr. Rev. Richard Nightingale and Margaret Catherine McCormick Coffey, originally of Amherst Co., VA then of Lincoln and Madison Counties in KY and finally of Platte Co., MO.

This family descends from Edward and Ann Powell Coffey through John and Jane Graves Coffey, Willian and Elizabeth Osborne Coffey and Osborn and Mary "Polly" Nightingale Coffey who settled in Casey Co., KY.

Erval was a graduate of the University of Kansas where he was active in sports.  After graduation he began a career in the US Public Health Service, eventually becoming Assistant Surgeon General.  He served overseas and was once appointed to Thailand under the Foreign Economic Assistance Act.  He had been Regional Director of the PHS in Washington DC prior to his appointment.

According to an article rife with typographical errors, and which appeared in the Memphis World on Dec. 26, 1950, Erval married Catherine Ann Borchdt [sic] of Chicago and were the parents of three daughters and a son.  In a later undated article found here, [clicking this link will download a PDF] Dr. Coffey eventually accepted an appointment at the regional office of the PHS in New York City.  Upon retirement he accepted an appointment as Health Officer for the city of Greenwich, CT.  He died in April, 1968 in Pinellas Co., FL.

Very little information has been found for Dr. and Mrs. Coffey, probably due to their travel and overseas work.  After he registered for the draft in 1917 he entered the US Army.  I found one source1 that reports him serving at Camp Funston in one of the Divisional Cantonment Training Camps at Fort Riley, Riley Co., KS.  Prior to that he resided at #7 Jackson Bldg in Lawrence, KS, which I presume was a dorm on the University of Kansas campus.  The Cantonment camps were among the first places in the US where the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic began.

The last time I found him in a census record was 1910 while he was still living with his parents in Barber Co., MO.

His draft registration card described him as being tall with medium build, brown eyes and light brown hair.

He and his wife were found on a List of first class In-Bound Passengers at San Francisco, arriving on the SS President Cleveland from Yokohama, Japan on Mar. 6, 1953.  Dr. Coffey was then 56 years old and Catherine was age 52.  Catherine listed her place of birth as Illinois.

I have not yet found Catherine's birth date, which from the passenger list I estimated to be 1901.  I am still searching for a record of their marriage, Catharine's death date and where they are buried.  Her maiden name as printed in the Memphis paper is also suspect.

Erval's older brother, Dr. George McDowell Coffey continued his family's medical service tradition as a dentist.  He married Helen Marjorie Miller and died in Grant Co., KS in 1969.

Update:  July 5, 2011
Jack Coffee,

Good morning. I am the first grandson of Dr. & Mrs. Erval Richard Coffee as described in your blog. 

Just wanted you to know that I am hosting a small family reunion of their direct descendants at a gathering in Old Town Alexandria, VA in late October. We are expecting: the two surviving daughters (Germaine Sava and Beverly Burns); most of their children/grandchildren; and, the children/grandchildren of their deceased children (Richard Coffee, Bargara Vogt). We're expecting about 30+ folks from the DC/Maryland/VA area, New Jersey, California, North Carolina, Norway and Thailand.

Just wanted to pass the news to you. 

1338 UNION ST, #6, SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94109
CELL: +1 808 292 9086
GOOGLE VOICE: +1 202 596 6314
SKYPE: +1 415 644 5233; ID: hessrick
I received the following e-mail today:

1The Graduate Magazine [Univ of KS], Oct., 1917, Vol. XVI, Page 217
*Photo credit National Library of Medicine

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