Gary and Claudia Coffey
Gary and Claudia Coffey worked their way into success and whenever possible, gave back to the Washington County community. Together, the couple continually fosters a deep commitment to make our community a better place.
Claudia was born on June 21st in Hastings, Nebraska to Claude Barnard and Irma Mae Deatrick. Her father was in the Army Air Corps while her mother worked in a factory that produced bombs for World War II. Shortly after her birth, the family traveled to Washington County. Growing up on a farm in Washington County, Claudia had 150 acres to play and work on. Oldest of the family of eight, Claudia recalls, “I was outside all summer; helping with the cows, pigs, and chickens.” After attending schools of various locations, Claudia finished out her senior year at Hardinsburg High School where she began her office training. Thinking back, Claudia mentioned Mrs. Wiseman, an influential figure that has helped shape her in life. “She taught us dictation, typing, and how to do job interviews. I’ll never forget that. She helped get us ready for the world,” Claudia explained.
Claudia’s first job at A&W Root Stand led her to meet her future husband, Gary. Smiling, Claudia recited his order “He would order coffee and a cheeseburger every Sunday and root beer on other days.” She continued, “He told me later on that he didn’t really like root beer but he would still stop by often to see me.”
Gary was born on February 22nd in Scottsburg to Talmadge and Estel Teagarden Coffey. He spent most of his childhood in Salem where he attended Salem Community Schools. Throughout high school, he spent most of his time after school working at JayC grocery store. As an only child, his childhood was quite different from Claudia’s. “While I was on the farm, he was the town boy riding his bike on the streets of Salem,” Claudia said. Upon graduation, he continued his studies at United Electronics Institute in Louisville. As an engineer, he worked at Cortron Systems Inc. in Orleans, Indiana up to the closing of the factory. From there, he worked at other places for several years before settling at WLKY TV in 1977. He retired in 2008.
Claudia states, “We lived parallel lives in different places. We started school on the same day and graduated on the same day.” Living parallel lives with opposite personalities, the two complement each other well. Claudia is bubbly and outgoing while Gary is quiet and shy. Nonetheless, the two were engaged in April and married a year later on September 12th, 1964. They settled in Salem before moving to Borden in 1977 to be closer to their workplace.
After working one year at A&W, Claudia worked a wide variety of jobs in multiple areas. She worked at Commonwealth Insurance Company in Louisville for three years and continued at Cortron in Orleans, Indiana for six years. When the factory closed, Claudia worked at Baird Mobile Homes in Salem for one year before spending twenty years working in the office at Child Craft, a part of Smith Cabinet in Salem. Following that she returned to working in downtown Louisville as a Purchasing Agent for computer hardware and software. She then worked in several Louisville locations including ConAgra Foods, Yum! Brands, and Humana up until retirement in 2012. During her years of employment, Claudia started working on her associate’s degree in general studies. Starting at Ivy Tech and finished at IUPUI, Claudia received her degree in 1999.
In 2001, Claudia was diagnosed with HER2-positive breast cancer. She aggressively pursued treatment and a new life outlook. For Claudia, it’s simply remembering---“We are all just walking each other home, helping each other and taking it one day at a time to make difficult times a little bit easier.”
Although the couple did not have kids of their own, they took in their niece during her freshman year. “She’s like our own daughter. Gary and I hope that all my nieces and nephews would work hard and to stay openminded,” Claudia said. Gary added on the golden rule, “Treat others as you would want to be treated; honestly and fairly.”
Outside of work, Gary and Claudia are members of St. Patrick’s Church. In their free time, the couple shares a common interest in travelling. They have travelled to many different areas in Europe, Caribbean Islands, and Canada. Aside from travel, Claudia enjoys writing and genealogy. Currently working on her third family history book, Claudia traces her ancestry to families who have been in America since before the American Revolution. For Gary, his hobbies consist of archaeology and astronomy.
Claudia shared, “Washington County is a happy medium between city and country. I was raised here on small town values and have always loved the peace and quiet this place provides.” To express their love for the community, the Gary and Claudia Coffey Touch Tomorrow Fund was established in 2019 to address the ever-changing needs of the community. Together, their legacy will continue on, for good and forever, in Washington County.