June 21, 2014

Walter Castella Coffey (1876-1956)

Walter Castella Coffey
Photo via Univ. of MN
I wrote a small piece about Walter some time ago when I didn't know much at all about his family or career in education.

He was a son of Calvin Allen and Josephine Simmonds Coffey, born Feb. 1, 1876 in Bartholomew Co., IN and died on Jan. 31, 1956 in Orlando, Orange Co., FL. Calvin descended from Edward through his son John.

Walter had a long and distinguished career in Agricultural education.  According to a memorial published by the University of Minnesota, Walter grew up in Hartsville, IN.  As a youngster he assisted his father with sheep raising.  He attended both Hartsville College and earned a two-year degree from Franklin College.  Afterwards, he spent several years teaching at various schools across Indiana.

He went to the University of Illinois in about 1906 where he worked as a "herdsman." and where he learned of an opening at there for "...someone to teach sheep raising."  He applied for and was given the job and continued to advance, eventually becoming Dean of the University of Wisconsin at St. Paul where he served from 1941 until his retirement on June 30, 1945.

During his lifetime, Walter served on the Federal Reserve Bank of Minnesota board, Association of Land Grant Colleges, Minnesota YMCA and Hamline University where he served as acting president from June, 1952 until January, 1953 while the school searched for a permanent president.  In 1949 the Admin building on the University of Minnesota campus at St. Paul was renamed Coffey Hall in his honor.

In a memorial published by the Journal of Animal Science in 1957 it was written that he was a member of Sigma Xi, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Alpha Zeta, Gamma Sigma Delta, and Phi Kappa Phi.  He was an honorary life member of the Minnesota Horticultural as well as the State Agricultural Societies.  He was a Rotarian, a Mason, a member of the Minneapolis Club, the Campus Club, the Hinikahda Golf Club and a layman of the Methodist Church in America.

Lardner A. Coffey
The Ariel, Lawrence College
Appleton, WI 1933
Walter married Jennie Crisler Lardner on August 14, 1907¹ in Big Rapids, Mecosta Co., MI.  Jennie was born on Feb. 4,1880 in Newton Co., IN to Alex and Sarah Crisler Lardner.  Together, Jennie and Walter had two children, Lardner A.², born c1911 and Walter, Jr., born c1915; both in Illinois.  Lardner later married Dagny N. Edstrom of Wisconsin in about 1940.  Their known children were Richard Allen, born in Olmsted Co., MN and Margaret Jean, born in Jackson Co., MN.  Walter, Sr. died in Orlando, Orange Co., Florida on January 31, 1956.  Unfortunately, I have not yet found the family of Walter, Jr. or, Jennie's death date or where she and Walter, Sr. are buried.  In any reader has that info, please contact me.

¹"Michigan Marriages 1868-1925", index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/N3VM-GBD : accessed 20 Jun 2014), Walter C. Coffey and Jennie C. Lardner, 14 Aug 1907; citing Big Rapids, Mecosta, Michigan, v 3 p 417 rn 3778, Department of Vital Records, Lansing; FHL microfilm 2342678.

²Lardner A. Coffey, 1933, Ariel Yearbook, Lawrence College, Appleton, WI. From St. Paul, MN, he was a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon; Football 1 thru 4; "L" Club and Physics Club.

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