Joseph Denis Coffee, Jr. of Lakewood, NJ passed away on Sunday, Jan. 23, 2011. He was born in 1918 in Glens Falls, NY, the son of Kathryne (Dwyer) and Joseph Denis Coffee. He graduated from Columbia College in 1941 and married Margaret Jennings. He served from Ensign to Lt. Commander in the US Navy during WWII. Joseph Coffee began his distinguished career in college administration in 1947 at Columbia University. He was assistant to the president for alumni affairs when he left Columbia in 1967 to join Eisenhower College in Seneca Falls, NY as a founding administrator and retired in 1983 as Chancellor of Eisenhower College of Rochester Institute of Technology following their merger. He was the director of the Educational Fund of the Joint Industry Board of the Electrical Industry for over thirty years, administering college scholarships for union member's children and also co-developed the nation's first residential educational program for union members.
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Joseph Coffee served as a trustee of the Board of Education of Teaneck, NJ for 6 years, during which time Teaneck became the first town in the U.S. to voluntarily desegregate its schools. He was named Teaneck's first Citizen of the year in 1967. He received Columbia College's John Jay Award in 1998, and served as a university trustee. He also served on the board of directors of the National Women's Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls. After retiring, he and Margaret moved to Red Bank, NJ where Joseph was active in the Red Bank Rotary, the Shadow Lake Village community, and the St. James Catholic Church choir. He began his love of Rotary International in Seneca Falls, where he served as president and continued his service in Red Bank. He devoted himself to the Ambassadorial Scholarship, which provides scholarships to study abroad, and started the Honorary Rotarian Award in 1988. He received the Paul Harris Award in 1988 and again in 2002.
His wife of 56 years, Margaret Jennings, in 1998, and son, John Allan, in 1993, preceded Joseph in death. Surviving are two sons, James Jennings (Betty), of Forked River, NJ and Matthew Brian (Michele), of Jacksonville, FL; four daughters, Mary Joyce Coffee, of San Diego, CA, Barbara Coffee Wolf (Steven), of New York, NY, Margaret Erin Giovannini (David), of Aberdeen, SD, and Ann Ellen Beach, of Tallahassee, FL.
In lieu of flowers, please send contributions to the Columbia College Fund. Visitation will be Wednesday, January 26th from 9:30 to 10:30AM at "The Family Owned" Carmona-Bolen Home For Funerals, 412 Main Street, Toms River, NJ 08753. A Funeral Mass will be held Wednesday at 11:00AM at St. Joseph RC Church, Toms River. Burial will follow at Holmdel Cemetery in Holmdel. Condolences can be sent to: carmonabolenfh.com
Published in Asbury Park Press on January 25, 2011