A Simple Man

This post is dedicated to Larry Coffey and his family. Larry was 73 years old and died suddenly this week after a short illness. He was a preacher, Sunday school teacher, electrician, carpenter, family man and friend. What follows is something I wrote for Larry’s grandson, Ben. He said I could share it with you.

A Simple Man

Larry Coffey wasn’t like a lot of people in today’s society, always in search of their fifteen minutes of fame. He preferred being on the sidelines to being the star player He spoke in a soft, but firm voice. He dressed nicely, but never flashy. When there was a crowd he never jumped in the middle, but preferred to stand on the sidelines and watch quietly. Larry never attracted any attention to himself, that just wasn’t his style and because of that quiet, gentle manner, I admired him even more.

Larry was a rock…at his church, at work, at home and in the community. Everything he did, he did with kindness and dignity and a smile on his face. And while he watched he smiled…oh how I will miss his sweet, sweet smile.

There’s a country song that says “You gotta stand for something or you will fall for anything.” You didn’t have to wonder what Larry Coffey stood for. He lived his life for Jesus and he wasn’t ashamed to say so. He showed us how much he loved Jesus every time he preached a sermon. He told customers in his store and invited them to church. He told the people he worked with and all his friends and neighbors.

Larry was a Christian but he didn’t just tell you he was….he showed you.

When the tornadoes came and destroyed property, Larry and Maedene were one of the first couples on the scene to help clean up. If you were in the hospital he came to visit. If you were in the nursing home he ministered to you. If you were sad and just needed someone to talk to, he listened. If you were worried about a loved one and wanted prayers for them, he was more than happy to go to God in prayer on their behalf. If you wanted to be baptized in the middle of the night, all you had to do was call Larry and he was there.

I admired a lot of things about Larry Coffey but one thing that stands out about him was how much he loved the children at our church. He loved working with the teenagers and baptized many of them. He knew they were the future of the church and he never failed to tell them or show them how much he appreciated them. And oh did they love him back. When I heard that the family had asked some of the young men at our church to carry Larry to his final resting place I nodded and thought to myself, “Larry would like that.”

Every time we leave the people we love we never know if we will see them again, but when Bill and I left for a short trip last week I never expected to return to the Randolph community and Larry not be there. We actually talked to him on the phone while we traveled. Someone had called him about a hospital patient who wanted to be baptized and they were unable to get the patient to a church. Larry called Bill to ask if there was a place they could be baptized in the hospital. That was typical of Larry too, always trying to help someone else get to heaven.

“When you die,” Larry often said, “that’s the moment you face the judgment. Your time is up and the judgment is at hand.”

Anyone who knew him knew that he was ready for his judgment, but for those who aren’t….those who haven’t been baptized into Christ, Larry would want you to know that everyone’s time on earth is running out. Whether we live 20 years or 73, sooner or later we all die. Larry would want everyone in this room, in this community to be baptized and be prepared when their time comes.

I’ve heard Larry Coffey preach a lot of sermons over the years, but the very best sermon he ever preached was the life he lived. He was a simple man who probably never knew what a great influence he had on those whose lives he touched. I told him I loved him many times but I wish now I had told him how much I admired him.

When we received the call that Larry had passed away I closed my eyes and envisioned him in the arms of angels, being carried home. And on his face was the same sweet smile that I will forever miss.

Rest in peace, dear brother. We will see you on the other side.


  1. lanelle harlow cawthron 22 Oct, 2011

    I agree with every thing you said. What a lovely thoughts. Thanks

  2. mary alice yokley 22 Oct, 2011

    I appreciate how you are able to get to the heart of the matter and help us all to verbalize the feelings that we all share. Right now, I am so grieved that it is hard not to just see our loss and forget the great blessing that Larry has received, but I’m sure that there is rejoicing in heaven. Hope we can go forward and be as concerned and responsible as he was; that’s what he would want most.

  3. Beautifully written and so true.

  4. What a lovely man and I am sorry to hear you lost your friend suddenly. You wrote a wonderful tribute.

  5. Sorry for the loss of your friend, Larry. Sounds like he lived out his life like Jesus would want him to. It’s so wonderful to have the promise of heaven so we will see our loved ones again. This post was a great tribute to a man you and others loved. My prayers for all of you!

  6. Jenny P Blankenship 23 Oct, 2011

    I didn’t know Larry personally but I love many people who loved him. I so appreciate what you said. I teach the teenage Sunday School class at our church and we are studying on what legacy they want to leave behind. I think this is a perfect example and I can’t wait to read it to them.
    Thanks again, you always know just the right way to describe what’s in the heart in to words. I also want to thank you and your family for the help that you have given for my Dad and his situation. You will never know what it has meant to all of us. Your legacy will always be admired and respected by myself and so many more.
    Love you lots,

  7. Vickie 24 Oct, 2011

    Thank you for sharing with us all.

  8. teresak 24 Oct, 2011

    Thanks for commenting, Vickie!

  9. teresak 24 Oct, 2011

    Jenny, you are family and you don’t have to thank us. We love your dad too! Your words touched my heart and made my day. Even though any good deeds are just a reflection of Jesus working in our lives. Larry will be so missed! Love you and yours! Teresa

  10. Annette 26 Oct, 2011

    You were created, dear Teresa, to soothe us with words like those you wrote about Larry Coffey. May we all live the rest of our lives trying to earn such a tribute…