Obituary of Barbara J. Coffey
Barbara Jean Coffey, 71, of Syracuse, NY, passed away on Saturday, October 10, 2020, at her residence at Loretto Cunningham Health & Rehabilitation Center, after a twelve year battle with Alzheimer's Disease. Barb was born in Albany, NY. She attended St. Vincent de Paul's School, Syracuse (class of 1966) and graduated from Le Moyne College, Syracuse (class of 1970), having pursued studies in science and philosophy. Barb worked as a computer programmer, office manager, and bookkeeper, before retiring in 2008.
Barb was an avid reader, enjoying most the mystery and fantasy fiction genres, and science writing. Her homes always resembled bookstores: her walls were filled with bookshelves and her tabletops were stacked with National Geographic, Smithsonian, and Science magazines. She routinely swept all the categories when playing Jeopardy, possessing encyclopedic knowledge, but always encouraged her kids to do their research and "look it up" rather than tell them the answers. She loved to travel with her children, making trips in recent years to Ireland, San Diego, Acadia, San Antonio, New Orleans and Montreal; she worked toward her life goal of visiting as many national zoos as she could. Barb also crocheted as many baby and graduation blankets for family as she could until her disease progressed.
Barb supported local organizations that meant the most to her, such as Toys for Tots, the Food Bank, and CNY Family Bike Giveaway. She gave blood as often as possible, donating tens of gallons over her lifetime. Barb was kind, generous, fiercely loyal to her family, and she was the smartest person we've ever known. She frequented her local libraries, museums, parks, and science centers, always in pursuit of more knowledge. Barb believed that, as her favorite author and astronomer Carl Sagan said, "We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers."
Barb is predeceased by her parents, Beatrice (Battle) Coffey and Eugene J. Coffey.
Survivors: She is survived by her children: Sarah (Tim) Fleming-Ferlito, Jessie (Nick) Buecheler, Nora (Chris) Strong, and Nathan Fleming; her seven grandchildren: Tobias, Malaki, Mischa, Westley, Michael Finnegan, Liam and Liliana; her siblings: Anne Coffey, Peter (Becky) Coffey, Kate (Gary) Fink, Paul (Karen) Coffey, and Rick (Ellen) Coffey; and multiple nieces and nephews.
Services: There will be no immediate funeral services, in part due to Covid-19 and because Barb's final wish was to have her passing benefit the advancement of science and education as an anatomical gift. Instead, Barb's family will hold a memorial celebration of her life in the spring at her personal sanctuary, the Rosamond Gifford Zoo.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Friends of the Rosamond Gifford Zoo, Attn: Development Department, 1 Conservation Place, Syracuse, NY 13204; or to the Alzheimer's Association, CNY Chapter, 441 W. Kirkpatrick St., Syracuse, NY 13204.