For the third consecutive year, Jerry Coffey will walk on October 2, 2021, in our LSS Riverside Walk to Fight Poverty. Others will also participate, but for Jerry it’s a personal commitment; very, very personal.
Pictured to the left, Jerry and Joan Coffey shared many wonderful moments together throughout their 22 years of marriage. They started as co-workers, then casual friends with similar interests, and a common joy for every moment of life. Ultimately, they became husband and wife.
Joan grew up in a Roman Catholic family, and after she and Jerry moved to Riverside in 2002, she looked for a nearby congregation to get involved. She eventually became a member at Trinity Lutheran LCMS Church, Riverside. The parish offered programs that assisted many struggling people who faced challenges. In addition, Joan also belonged to the museum, as well as the Riverside Community Arts Association. Joan was an advocate for ordinary citizens with extraordinary needs. Her annual LSS walks raised lots of money that helped loads of people with their struggles.
But her commitment became more difficult in 2015, when she was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in multiple lymph nodes and her lungs. By her final walk in 2018 the cancer had metastasized to her skin, fluids were in her lungs, and the lymphedema in her body added 50 pounds of extra weight, causing mobility and balance issues. She was so weak Jerry drove her to the starting location and picked her up at the finish.
Through all her pain and chemotherapy, Joan never complained. She remained upbeat and refused to give the impression she was ill. There was never a woe is me, or I can’t do that because I’m sick. She just did it. Her motto was To recovery and Beyond, borrowed from Buzz Lightyear’s “To Infinity and Beyond” in Toy Story.
Jerry often remembers their first meal together. He had just completed the Los Angeles Marathon in March, and though she had never done anything like that, Joan announced that night she would run with Jerry in the Chicago Marathon. She did, that October, in just seven months!
Joan was tough, focused, committed and never gave up – even with cancer. Jerry will be walking in Joan’s memory on October 2, paying forward her commitment to people she never met in person. Her memory and commitment are still helping others. Thanks be to God!