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In Memory of . . . John M. Coffee, Jr. (1928-2012)

Posted By Administration, Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Rev. John M. Coffee, Jr. died on May 8, 2012. He was 83 years old.

Rev. Coffee was born in Tacoma, WA on November 20, 1928 to John M. and Lillian S. Coffee. Rev. Coffee attained a Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale University in 1951. He then went on to earn a Bachelor of Sacred Theology and a Master of Sacred Theology from Harvard Divinity School in 1954 and 1956, respectively.

Rev. Coffee was ordained by the First Unitarian Church of Tacoma, WA on August 15, 1954. From there, he was called to the First Church in Roxbury, MA and served as its Minister from 1955-1977. He served the Church of Our Father in East Boston, MA from 1961-1974; and the Benevolent Fraternity of Unitarian Universalist Churches from 1978-1982. As an interim minister, he served at the First Universalist Society of Providence, RI from 1977-1979. He was Minister Emeritus at the First Unitarian Church in Roxbury from 1977 until the end of his life. He also served as president of the Boston Minister’s Association.

Rev. Coffee taught for 39 years (1966-2005) at Emerson College in Boston, MA. As a longtime faculty member and eventual Professor Emeritus of History, Rev. Coffee was known by colleagues and students, alike, as a "talented storyteller who brought history alive in his classroom.” He was also one of the authors of A Century of Eloquence, a large volume on the history of Emerson College.

Rev. Coffee was an avid collector of transportation tokens. In fact, at the time of his death, he owned the world’s largest collection of transportation tokens. He was the author of several books on the matter including Land Company and Real Estate Tokens, Automobile Washing Tokens, and The Atwood-Coffee Catalogue of United States and Canadian Transportation Tokens.

Rev. Coffee is survived by loving friends, colleagues and students. At this time, a memorial service has not been scheduled.

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