June 3, 1927 - July 12, 2012
Helen MacConnachie Coffin passed away peacefully on July 12, 2012, surrounded by her loving family and gently cradled in the arms of God. A truly larger-than-life personality, Helen touched countless lives with her spirit of adventure, her zest for knowledge, her tireless compassion, gritty competitive nature, her dedication and faithfulness to friends, and her rock-solid faith.
Helen was born to Scottish Immigrant parents William and Helen MacConnachie in Montclair, NJ, on June 3, 1927, the youngest of five children and the only daughter. While some may have viewed life as the baby sister to four rough-n-tumble brothers as an unfortunate circumstance, Helen reveled in it and used the experience to shape her core values: Try anything, never let anybody tell you that you “can’t” do something, give as good as you get, and never give up. A 1946 graduate of Montclair High School, where she was editor of the school newspaper, “The Mountaineer”, Helen attended Berkeley Secretarial College, took a whirlwind driving tour around the USA, and settled into a job at the Montclair YMCA before meeting the love of her life in Donald Manning Coffin. Helen and Donald were married at Central Presbyterian Church on October 11, 1952, and together raised 5 children while living in “that big yellow house” in Upper Montclair. Amidst the rigors and challenges of 5 children, a husband, and a huge house, Helen still found time for volunteer work at the Montclair Community Hospital and at the American Red Cross.
As the children grew older, Helen took on the challenge of running the church office for the Heights Reformed Church in Upper Montclair, a job she both cherished and excelled at. Don’s retirement in 1988 brought the couple to Hemlock Farms, Pennsylvania, where Helen once again plunged into community service, with the Fire & Rescue Squad, the Manna food program, and with the Church at Hemlock Farms.
A life-long advocate of physical fitness, Helen quickly became a regular in the fitness room and on area golf courses where her competitive nature and love of the game brought many awards to the Coffin mantelpiece. Helen’s later years were spent traveling the world, spending time with children, grandchildren, and her many, many friends, reading every book she could get her hands on, and always finishing the NY Times crossword puzzle…in ink.
Helen is survived by her husband of 59-years, Donald, of Hemlock Farms; by children Keith & Jacqui Coffin of Sparta, NJ; Donna and Matt Merville of Sparta, NJ; Gordon Coffin of Portland, OR; Brian and Courtney Coffin of Cedar Grove, NJ, and Marilyn and Mike Koponen of Loveland, CO; and by 14 grandchildren.
A dazzlingly bright light that shone for too short a time, Helen will be deeply missed and long remembered.
A “Celebration of the Life of Helen Coffin” will be held at 11am on Saturday, July 21, 2012 at the Church at Hemlock Farms (map/directions).
In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to:
Karen Ann Quinlan Hospice, 99 Sparta Ave, Newton, NJ 07860
The Market Street Mission, 9 Market St., Morristown, NJ 07960
Celebration of Life - Church at Hemlock Farms - 11:00 a.m.