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William L. Cofell – Obituary

Name: William L. Cofell

Age: 97

Born: 11-22-1919

Died: 11-13-2017

St. John the Baptist Parish Center, Collegeville

St. John the Baptist Abbey Church, Collegeville

Mass of Christian burial will be held at 10:00 a.m. Monday, November 20, 2017 at St. John the Baptist Abbey Church in Collegeville for William L. Cofell, age 97 of St. Joseph. Burial will be in the parish cemetery. There will be a visitation from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 19th, at St. John the Baptist Parish Center and on Monday one hour prior to the services at the church. Parish prayers will be at 4:00 p.m. Sunday at the parish center.

William Lawrence Cofell, born November 22, 1919, died on Monday, November 13, 2017, one week shy of his 98th birthday. He was blessed to spend 66 of those years married to Lorraine Helen Westrup, who he married on a sunny morning, June 16, 1951, in Eden Valley, Minnesota. They met on a blind date as students at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University, where William was attending on the GI Bill. He served in the China-Burma-India theater during World War II as an Army weatherman and teletype technician for the weather squadron supporting the Tenth Air Force’s operations over the Himalayas. India was a long way from where he was born in Edgeley, North Dakota, to Floyd William and Elizabeth Henrietta (Lawrence) Cofell. William loved learning from an early age, and before joining the Army, he was proud to have graduated from Montpelier High School and to have worked as a trucker salesman for the Farmers Union Oil Company in South Heart, North Dakota.

After graduating from St. John’s in 1949, William taught high school in Melrose from 1950 to 1953 while completing his master's degree at the University of Minnesota in 1952. In 1953, William returned to St. John’s as a Professor of Education, where he remained until he retired as Professor Emeritus in 1986. Year after year, he would remark to Lorraine sincerely, “This is the best class I’ve ever had.” He was tireless in his dedication to young people and their education, serving as an advisor to students involved in the civil rights struggle of the 1970s, a member of the State Commission on Teacher Education from 1956 to 1967, and as chairman of the Minnesota Teacher Education Council from 1968 to 1969. He was in the Minnesota Trainer of Teacher Education Program from 1969-1970, and pioneered the Human Relations Training programs until 1978. William was a committed member of St. John the Baptist Parish in Collegeville and an oblate of Saint Benedict. He also served on the St. Cloud Diocesan Board of Education and the Diocesan Rural Life Committee. He was a member and past president of the Collegeville Community Credit Union and was an active member of the Stearns County and Minnesota Historical Societies. The year he retired from teaching, William was appointed by Governor Perpich as a charter member of the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources, where he served until 1991.

If William was a man of uncommon service to his community, to his family he was a man of uncommon love. His children will remember him as the father who kept them safe, encouraged their artistic talents and education, and taught them by example the importance of recognizing the good in every person. To his grandchildren, he will always be “Grandpa Bill,” who taught them how to drive a tractor, would let them win at checkers and chess, and planted in their hearts countless seeds of kindness that will bear fruit all the days of their lives. To his friends and neighbors, he was a good-natured companion who loved a game of “500” and was generous with the gladiolas he grew in his garden.

William Cofell died as he lived, surrounded by his family and with a heart full of love. He is survived by his wife, Lorraine, his children Paul (Christine), Mary Herbert (Jim), Ann, Jeanne (Patrick), Patricia (Al), John (Ruth), and David (Stephanie); his sisters Lois Scouten and Edith Brady; his 15 grandchildren Laurel, Patrick, Jon Paul, Lucas, Joshua, Katie, Timothy, Ashley, Kieran, Emerson, Liam, Audrey, Emiliana, Leela, and Maura; and 16 great grandchildren Benjamin, Samuel, Abigail, Lawrence, Lillian, Silas, Miren, Esmee, Winston, James, William, Áine, Jayber, Charlotte, Virginia, and. Eleanora. He is preceded in death by his parents, by his siblings Elizabeth, Eugene, Gordon, Marvin and Arthur, and by his infant daughter with whom he is rejoined in Christ.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the William and Lorraine Cofell Scholarship Fund at St. John’s University, Collegeville, MN.


Guestbook for William L. Cofell

Carol Malcolm
, niece
November 17, 2017, 6:20 pm
Uncle Bill provided the inspiration for me to study a foreign language and also recommended books to read to our children such as C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. (Great books) Bill was a kind, understanding man. When my Dad was in the hospital having suffered a heart attack, and while there his best friend had a heart attack and died, Dad took it hard. Bill visited him and told him it was o.k. to cry and grieve. Bill was compassionate and caring. Our family extends its deep sympathy for Aunt Lorraine and their family. Know that our prayers are with you at this time.
Cathy Duewel
, Niece
November 17, 2017, 4:12 pm
My thoughts and prayers to Lorraine and family. Uncle Bill was the type of person everyone should strive to emulate. He really was an inspiration to myself and many others. I will miss him and the wisdom he shared about life and living. I will keep your family in my thoughts and prayers.
Duane Theisen-Gorder
, High School Friend of Mary and Ann
November 17, 2017, 3:01 pm
Dear Mary and Ann, So sorry to hear your Dad passed away. Sending my deepest sympathy to you both and your family. May your memories of your Dad and Family bring comfort to you at this time. Thinking of you!
Judy (Seitz) Doty
, former student
November 17, 2017, 11:36 am
I was one of the lucky ones taught by Mr. Cofell. He truly had a “heart of gold” and won the hearts of those he instructed. He knew how to engage his students with stories and examples and was always willing to answer a question. My college experience was so much richer because of his influence. As a native to Stearns County, I know how involved and dedicated Mr. Cofell was to his church and community. Both of my parents belonged to the same church and enjoyed a 500 game or two with the Cofell’s; He is in heaven now and I hope he makes the next nine- no trump bid!
Loretta Simonet
, Friend of his son, Dave
November 17, 2017, 4:21 am
Dave and the Whole Cofell Family - I am so sorry for your loss. William sounds like he was an amazing, smart, hard-working and caring person. Love and peace to all of you.
T. Kelly
November 16, 2017, 3:48 pm
May the family find comfort in loving memories, and in knowing that God is "close to those that are broken at heart; and he saves those who are crushed in spirit." (Psalm 34:18) Our loving Creator, Jehovah God, has promised to soon "swallow up death forever...and wipe the tears from all faces" (Isaiah 25:8). With deepest sympathy.
Joyce Julaine (Pauling) Wilhelm
, cousin
November 15, 2017, 10:54 pm
I've always loved this man, my cousin, and always seemed to learn from him when in his presence. I will never forget when he 'hosted' the Cofell Reunion in Edgeley, making it so memorable for all. I have nothing but great memories of this whole family, and the richness they provided in my formative years! My deepest sympathies to Lois & Edith!

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