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Sgt Richard Donham "Dick" Coffelt
Birth: Aug. 6, 1932
Kansas City
Wyandotte County
Kansas, USA
Death: Jan. 25, 2012
Ellis County
Kansas, USA

Richard Donham Coffelt, Korean War Veteran and native of Hays, Kansas.


"The Coffelt Database of Vietnam War casualties has its roots in an effort begun by Richard Donham Coffelt. A Korean War era soldier and later an attorney in Hays, Kansas, Richard became aware that the government had not made public a central source of information regarding the servicemen and women who died as a result of service in Vietnam. In 1980 Richard set out to determine the unit of assignment for each Army soldier who died in Vietnam. As this was two years before the IBM PC (personal computer) came on the market, the work necessarily was done the old-fashioned way: by library research, travel, and in hand-writing.

"In 1993-94, after PCs had become commonplace, Tom Holloway (Emory University, Atlanta) changed the landscape by obtaining the Department of Defense's casualty database and the Army Adjutant General's database in digital form. Using the university's mainframe computers to read the reel-to-reel computer tapes, Tom integrated the two databases and converted the information into a commonly used small-computer format. The "Holloway Database" effectively became the public's sole source of information regarding all our Vietnam dead.

"In the late 1990s, others joined Richard's effort, contributing information and collating the collected material into digital form using the Holloway database as a baseline. The additional resources allowed the project's scope to expand to include unit of assignment information for all service branches. In 2002, an early version of the Coffelt Database was deeded to the National Archives, which made it available on-line as a searchable database.

"In late 2006, the project scope was extended further by including circumstances of death information in the Coffelt Database - the "how and where" of their deaths. As before, emphasis was placed on obtaining hard documentation, a task made easier as material became available on the Internet from governmental and private organizations. The Internet cannot and has not replaced on-the-spot investigation, though; in example, one member of the Coffelt Group has photographed over 60,000 documents at the LBJ and Nixon Presidential Libraries and in the National Archives. These photographs have become a part of the Coffelt Database.

"Richard Coffelt's health began failing, and on 29 October 2010 he made his last contributions to the Coffelt Database. Others now continue the work Richard began 30 years ago."

- From
- Used with permission.


"Dick was born Aug. 6, 1932, in Kansas City, Mo., to Carl and Lois (Maupin) Coffelt. He attended Hays High School and graduated from Shawnee Mission High School in 1950. He served in the United States Army 1953-1955 during the Korean conflict. He received his Bachelor's degree in Personnel Administration from the University of Kansas in 1956 and a law degree in 1959. He served on the Kansas Law Review Editorial Board from 1957 to 1958. He worked for State Farm Insurance from 1959 to 1960. He practiced law in Hays from 1960 to 1997. Following his retirement, he taught business law at Fort Hays State University from 1999 to 2002. He served on both the Board of Directors of the Humane Society of the High Plains and the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners.

"He married Marilyn Elledge in September 1956. They were divorced in 1974. He later married JoAnn Jennings on April 21, 1979.

"Dick is survived by his wife, JoAnn Jennings of the home in Hays; daughters Gretchen Mefford and her husband, Ned of Houston, Texas and Christine Frost of Portland, Oregon, son, Clayton Coffelt and his wife, Nicole of Denver, Colorado; a brother, Tom Coffelt and his wife, Judy, Olive Branch, Mississippi; grandchildren, Nathan and Matthew Mefford, Hallie and Gwen Frost, and Camile Coffelt.

"Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m., Saturday, January 28, 2012, at the First United Methodist Church in Hays. Private inurnment will be in the Mt. Allen Cemetery in Hays.

"Memorials have been established with the Humane Society of the High Plains, Hospice of Hays Medical Center or to a Vietnam Memorial to be to [sic] the Fisher House Foundation -- "There is at least one Fisher House at every major military medical center to assist families in need and to ensure that they are provided with the comforts of home in a supportive environment." in care of Hays Memorial Chapel Funeral Home, 20th and Pine. Condolences to the family at"

- From Hays Memorial Chapel Funeral Home
- Website
- Hays DAILY NEWS 1/26/2012,
- Used with permission.


The two photographs (from 1953 and 2011) were provided by and are used with the permission of his wife, Jo Ann Jennings.


Mount Allen Cemetery
Ellis County
Kansas, USA
Maintained by: Ken Davis
Originally Created by: Tom Reece
Record added: Jan 16, 2013
Find A Grave Memorial# 103665177
Sgt Richard Donham Dick Coffelt
Added by: Tom Reece
Sgt Richard Donham Dick Coffelt
Added by: Tom Reece
Sgt Richard Donham Dick Coffelt
Added by: Suz
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For one who served and continued to serve his fellow veterans and those that made the ultimate sacrifice.
- Rodney A Arnold
 Added: Apr. 24, 2015

- Red
 Added: Nov. 11, 2014
Thank you for your service to our country.
- Red
 Added: Apr. 5, 2014
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