Tuesday, November 27, 2012

McMannomy Coffing (1890-1958)

   A one-term Democratic state representative from Indiana, the wonderfully named McMannomy Coffing is without a doubt one of the oddest named politicians the Hoosier State ever produced. Other than having a fascinating name, little information could be found on him, and the rare portrait of him above was located via the Bowen Projects website, which maintains a listing of every former member of the Indiana General Assembly! 
   The son of William Brown Coffing (1863-1960) and the former Emma McMannomy (1867-1942), McMannomy "Mick" Coffing was born near Covington, Indiana on July 20, 1890. Inheriting his odd first name courtesy of his mother's maiden name, Coffing was enrolled in the public schools of Covington as a child and graduated from the Covington High School in 1909. He went on to study at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, and during his time there made a name for himself on the school's football and baseball teams.
   Coffing graduated from Wabash in the class of 1913 and spent the next decade engaged in farming in his native Fountain County. In 1925 he removed from Covington to the city of Gary, Indiana in Lake County, and it was here that he made his business fortunes. Within a few years of his relocation, Coffing became an insurance agent, later becoming a full partner in the Coffing-Tyler Insurance Company. While still involved in the insurance business, Coffing became the secretary-treasurer of the Greenwald Surgical Manufacturing Company and assumed its ownership upon the death of its founder in 1932.
   In addition to being busy with the aforementioned businesses, McMannomy Coffing also dabbled in real estate, was a member of the Gary Housing Authority, and later served as vice-president and director of the Gary Railways. In 1940 he married to Ms. Elizabeth Wilkey (1891-1976) and two years later was elected to the Indiana State House of Representatives from Lake County. His term in the legislature extended from 1943 to 1945 and during his service held a seat on the committees on Cities and Towns, Judiciary, Military Affairs, Public Libraries, and Buildings and Grounds. An article on his election to the house appeared in the Hammond, Indiana Times in January 1943 and if one looks closely, you'll see that he's listed under his nickname "Mick". One can wonder if he ever had a hard time explaining his odd first name to his constituents and fellow legislators!!

                                                From the Hammond Times, January 12, 1943.

   After leaving the legislature in 1945, Coffing continued to have active involvement in Gary civic affairs, being a member of the Gary Board of Realtors and the Gary Taxpayers Association. He and his wife Elizabeth also established the "McMannomy and Elizabeth Coffing Educational Foundation" scholarship at his Alma mater (Wabash University) in 1949. He retired from business life in 1956 and later removed back to his hometown of Covington. Coffing is recorded as being a farmer during the last years of his life and was a member of the Presbyterian Church and the Fountain Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons. Coffing died at age 67 on June 6, 1958, at his home in Covington, "having been in ill health since January".  He was later interred at the Mt. Hope Cemetery in Covington and was survived by his wife Elizabeth, who died in October 1976 at age 85.

                                McMannomy Coffing, from the 1943 Indiana Legislative composite portrait.

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