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.