William E. Coffey passed away on October 31, 2020, returning to the side of his treasured wife of 55 years, Rosemary (O’Brien) Coffey, whom he had missed dearly since her passing on May 21, 2019.
Bill was born in Boston on December 20, 1941, 13 days after Pearl Harbor, which he said was the other important world event that occurred that month. The oldest of Edward and Margaret (Connolly) Coffey’s four children, he is the loving older brother of Helen Sullivan and her husband Richard, Mary Trask and her late husband Walter and the late Peggy Hunt and her late husband Martin. He is also blessed to be the brother-in-law of Frank O’Brien and his wife Maureen. Bill and his sisters shared an admirably loyal and lifelong bond where they demonstrated to their children and grandchildren that taking care of one another, particularly family, is every person’s fundamental responsibility.
Bill and Rosemary met as students at Cathedral High School and they married – at the ages of 21 and 19 – following Bill’s graduation from Boston College in 1963. Bill then embarked on a 37-year career in the Boston Public Schools, where he held various teaching, coaching and administrative roles, including a two-year stint leading Boston English High School at the end of his career. Among his colleagues he was known for bringing a calm demeanor and genial nature to all of the schools in which served.
Bill and Rosemary were fortunate to have four children and eight grandchildren. He enjoyed nothing more than serving as the loving father of Edward Coffey (and Mary Walsh), William Coffey (and Mary Ellen), Tara Coffey and Kevin Coffey (and Stephanie) and the proud “Pop” of Liam, Sean, Bridget, Erin Rose, Gracie, Kevin, Ronan, and Anthony. A prodigious reader, his book collection could always be counted on to provide his children just the right source to improve their high school and college history papers.
Bill also was very active in the Braintree community as a baseball and basketball coach. In the late 1970s he started boys and girls basketball programs at St. Thomas More and in 1982 founded the Braintree Summer Basketball Association. In addition to coaching, he could often be found refereeing four games a night, three nights a week, initially at French’s Common and then at the BSBA’s longstanding home in Daughraty Gym. For his dedication to a generation of Braintree teens, at the end of his tenure he was honored with the title of the “Father of Braintree Summer Basketball.”
Bill also was blessed with some special cousins and lifelong friends who served as his running mates in their early years and loyal caretakers in his later years. Two things Bill looked forward to more than anything: (1) the next installment in their 55+ year card game tradition (an event that they refused to let him miss even as his health declined) and (2) their annual August road trip to Atlantic City. In his final years, he was fortunate to be in Rosemary’s selfless care while still getting out regularly to attend his grandchildren’s sporting events.
Because of the pandemic, a private wake and funeral will be held, followed by a private burial at Blue Hills Cemetery in Braintree. In lieu of flowers, the family respectfully requests that friends and relatives consider making a donation to the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research (www.alzinfo.org). To register for the Mass of Christian Burial, please use the RSVP below or contact the funeral home if you do not have internet access.
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