Coffman Chapel is named for Andrew and Gladys Coffman, well-known philanthropists and longtime residents of Washington County, Md.
Andrew Kendall Coffman, known by his friends as Andy, was the son of Peter and Elizabeth Kendall Coffman. Born in 1871 in Bakersville, Md., he was raised on a farm and educated in the local schools of nearby Halfway, Md., where his family moved when he was three years old. He began his business career at an early age with the Coffman Lumber Company, eventually serving as president. Later, he decided to pursue a career as a funeral director and enrolled in Eckles College of Mortuary Science in Philadelphia, Pa. After successfully completing his college courses, he returned to Washington County and settled in Hagerstown where he became a practicing mortician.
Andrew Coffman was married to Gladys Rothenstein, the daughter of Augustus and Lillian Busey Rothenstein. Born in Baltimore in 1892, Mrs. Coffman was a longtime resident of Hagerstown, having moved there as a young girl.
The Coffmans enjoyed a very successful marriage and were described by those who knew them as full partners in a loving relationship characterized by complete mutual understanding, trust and warm generosity. They shared many interests.
Both were deeply interested in the community and active in various civic organizations. Mr. Coffman was a charter member of the Hagerstown Rotary Club and served on the boards of many organizations, including the Y.M.C.A., Hagerstown Junior College, the Historical Society of Washington County, the Hagerstown Chamber of Commerce, and Washington County Hospital.
A successful businessman, he was an active member of the Maryland Funeral Directors Association, at one time serving as dean of the funeral directors in his part of the United States. In 1929 Mr. Coffman was awarded a medal for outstanding service to his community. In 1969 he was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Citizen Award by the Hagerstown Chamber of Commerce.
A dedicated community volunteer, Mrs. Coffman was active in many civic organizations. She supported the work of the Salvation Army and served on its advisory board for more than 50 years. She also participated in the work of the American Cancer Society, the Washington County Tuberculosis Association, the Cedar Ridge Children’s Home, and the Zonta Club. Mr. and Mrs. Coffman were devoted members of the Zion Reformed Church in Hagerstown.
Mr. and Mrs. Coffman were actively involved in the life of Hood College, with both serving on the Hood College Board of Trustees. Mr. Coffman was elected to the board in 1944, and served as chair of the Building and Grounds Committee; Mrs. Coffman was elected in 1966.
During their lifetimes, the Coffmans donated more than $3 million to educational and civic causes in the Central Maryland region. They financed and supervised the construction of the Coffman Health Center, the Coffman Research Center and the Coffman Home for Aged in Hagerstown. They provided financial support to aspiring college and nursing students, including many Hood College students.
In 1954, Hood College named its chapel for the Coffmans in recognition of the generous gift of $150,000 they gave to support its construction. The building of the chapel was fully funded with additional contributions from 2,200 alumnae, parents and friends in support of the Hood Forward Program.
The main sanctuary in Coffman Chapel seats more than 700 people while the basement includes classrooms and a choir rehearsal room. Faculty and staff offices can be found in the basement and on the second floor.
There are no direct descendants of Andrew and Gladys Coffman. Mr. Coffman died in 1968 at age 97. Mrs. Coffman died a year later in Washington County Hospital at age 77 following a long illness. A foster son, Roy NcNamee, is also deceased. Yet their legacy is a lasting one—both to Hood and the Western Maryland region.