OBITUARY: Robert Dean Coffman

Robert Dean Coffman, 94, passed away peacefully on February 22, 2024, in Wichita, Kansas.

Robert was born in Anthony, Kansas, on September 20, 1929, to Acie and Juanita (Emmele) Coffman.  He was joined in the family by his brothers Rex and Ron, and sister Anita.  He attended schools by horseback in Sharon, Kansas, until his family moved to Gridley, Kansas, where he began high school while pitching hay for his father’s haying business in the summers. He and his brothers fished, hunted and trapped game, especially along the Verdigris River, making traditions and memories they passed on later to their sons. He attended Kansas State Teachers College in Emporia on a football scholarship that included housing under the football stadium and the opportunity to hunt quail for dinner. He received Small College All-American honors playing Defensive End.

Robert married his high school sweetheart, Marjorie Werts, on July 30, 1950.  He taught one year at Toronto, Kansas, until he was drafted into the Army and stationed at Fort Ord, Monterrey Bay, California. While there he had the opportunity to play catcher for the Army Softball team, contributing to the team winning the national Army tournament.  His son, Donaven, and daughter, Cynthia, were born during their time in California.

The family returned to Kansas where Robert took a position teaching and coaching football, basketball and track at Peabody High School from 1954 to 1959.  During that time the football teams went undefeated for three years and the 1958 team was voted state football champions; these players became lifetime friends and hunting partners and Robert and Marjorie enjoyed travel to the reunions of these classes.  Brenton and Alisa were born to the family during these years.

Robert joined the Newton High School staff in 1959 as football and track coach while teaching math courses and officiating college basketball.  In 1964 he began coaching and teaching at Wichita North High School until Wichita Northwest High School opened in 1978 and he became Athletic Director.  He was appointed to serve as Kansas State High School Athletic Director President.

Robert enjoyed his hunting dogs and playing partner bridge with his wife and friends.  In retirement he stayed busy with woodworking and assisting his son, Brent, with his roofing company.  He delighted in meeting new people and telling stories. In his later years he anchored his family with weekly Saturday morning breakfasts at the Village Inn.

Robert was preceded in death by his parents, wife Marjorie of 61 years, his brothers Rex and Ron, his son, Donaven and his son-in-law, Dick West.  He is survived by his sister Anita (Gary) Gilgen of Noel, Missouri, and sisters-in-law Marian Coffman of St Louis, Missouri, and Betty Coffman of Wichita and his children Cynthia Montgomery of Wichita, Brent (Michelle) Coffman of Newton, and Alisa West of Wichita and daughter-in-law Susan Coffman of Bella Vista, Arkansas.  Grandchildren Steven (Emily) Montgomery of Wichita, Derek (Charo) Swoyer of Albuquerque, NM, Danika (Kyle) Wells of Wichita, Brady (Kristen) Coffman and Mallorie (Sean Heaton) Coffman of Newton, Ryan Coffman of Cumberland, Rhode Island, Jonathan Bessel of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and Alex Bessel of Wichita and ten great-grandchildren.

Graveside services will be held at Greenwood Cemetery in Newton at 1:00 pm on Tuesday, March 5, 2024.  Following the service, the family will greet friends at a Celebration of Life at the Wichita Country Club, 8501 E 13th Street, Wichita, from 2:30-4:30 pm.

In lieu of flowers, memorials are requested for the compassionate care of Harry Hynes Hospice in care of the funeral home.

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