Oldest WW1 Veteran Dies

[UPDATED] J Russell Coffee, 109, one of 3 remaining WW1 Vets, died. (See also Toledo Blade story). Born 1898. This is not the WW1 Vet I mentioned recently from a NYTimes article.

Coffey had enlisted in the Army while he was a student at Ohio State University in October 1918, a month before the Allied powers and Germany signed a cease-fire agreement. He was discharged a month after the war ended.

His two older brothers fought overseas, and he was disappointed at the time that the war ended before he shipped out. But he told The Associated Press in April 2007: “I think I was good to get out of it.”

Born Sept. 1, 1898, Coffey played semipro baseball in Akron, earned a doctorate in education from New York University, taught in high school and college and raised a family.

He delivered newspapers as a youngster and would read the paper to immigrants, his daughter said. “That was the beginning of him being a teacher,” she said.

This past year, we lost two other notable WW1 veterans—a 115 year old man and the last woman WW1 Veteran. And there are now two left:

The two remaining U.S. veterans are Frank Buckles, 106, of Charles Town, W.Va. [mentioned in my earlier post]; and Harry Richard Landis, 108, of Sun City Center, Fla., according to the Veterans Affairs Department. In addition, John Babcock, 107, of Spokane, Wash., served in the Canadian army and is the last known Canadian veteran of the war.

UPDATE: Miriam at Ancestories points out yet another WW1 Veteran, Louis Livingston, who’s involved with oral history, to boot!

However, the article neglects to mention 107-year-old Louis Livingston, also of Spokane, another surviving American WWI veteran! [see note below] Livingston for years was an active member of the local Oral History Association, and his work was featured recently in the November general meetinmeetingg of the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society by member John Ellingson, who is personally acquainted with Livingston.

[note] Miriam, in the comments below, corrects herself. He registered, but did not serve. Also, he died earlier this week.

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Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on December 21, 2007 in • Veterans History Project
1 CommentsPermalink

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Susan, I made an error about Louis Livingston.  Although he appears in the WWI Draft Registration, he never actually got to serve, as the war ended nine days after he registered.

Also, I just learned this evening that he passed away on Wednesday.

My correction is posted here

Miriam Robbins Midkiff  on 12/21  at  11:24 PM

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