Richard Neal Coffin

FALMOUTH – Richard Neal Coffin, 90, died Nov. 4, 2019, at home with his wife, Rose, by his side. He was born in Boer’s Head, England, in the spring of 1929, to the former Ruth Phillips and Robert Peter Tristam Coffin.
Richard remembered living at the age of four, in upstate New York, at Wells College. He was later moved to Brunswick, Maine, where he attended local schools, then Fryeburg Academy and graduated from the Choate School in Wallingford, Conn.
He graduated from Bowdoin College in 1952, then attended Harvard College, where he received a master’s degree in English in 1953.
He was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1953, where he served two years in the Army of occupation in Germany. After his discharge, he enrolled in Chapel Hill, N.C., then transferred to Boston University, where he did his Ph.D. dissertation of the saga of Beowulf. 
He taught at Curry College in Milton, Mass., then Tufts College, University of Maine, Orono, for a year, and finally the school that became the University of Southern Maine, where he was awarded tenure and taught for 30 years.
In the summer of 1962, he received a foundation grant where he compiled a Laotian phrase book for Army officers. In the summer of 1963, with another grant, he made a phrase book in the Vietnamese language for Army officers. In 1964, posing as a tourist and still enrolled in the Army Reserves, he searched temples in Cambodia for weapons caches. Later he would go to Mexico in the summers, sometimes with his friends Bryant Jones and Peter Holmes and Robert Whitson. In 1982, he went to Nicaragua, with his friend Peter Holmes and later years he studied film making in Los Angeles and made films with his friend Peter Holmes to put on public access tv. 
In 1965, he married his first wife Lou Coffin in Cambridge, Mass. Later in 2004, he married Rose Mary McDermott in 2004 in Sedona, Ariz. 
He is survived by his wife, Rose; his nieces, Alison Coffin of Brunswick, Suzanne Coffin of Haverhill, Mass., Elena Wescott of Reading, Mass.; his nephew, Nathanial Coffin of Brunswick, Jeffery Coffin of New Hampshire; his grand-nieces, Emily Daigle and husband, Michael, and their sons, William and Sam, Katie Sparks and her husband Evan of Berkley, Calif.; his great-grandniece, Charlotte Sparks; his sister-in-law, June Coffin of Brunswick; his cousins, Arlene Lay of St. Augustine, Fla., Christine Sanborn of Alton, N.H., Victor Coffin of Brunswick, Alan and his wife, Jean Coffin, of Bowdoinham, Frank Coffin and his wife, Darlene Coffin, of Harpswell.
Many thanks to Tracy Bennett of Auburn and Susan Higgins of South Portland. A special thanks to Northern Light Homecare and Southern Maine Hospice.
Visiting hours will be held on Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, from 4-8 p.m., at Jones, Rich and Barnes, 199 Woodford St. Portland, ME. A celebration of Richards life will be held Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019 at 11 a.m., at Jones, Rich and Barnes Funeral Home, with the Rev. Beth Carter officiating, with a reception to follow.
To view Richard’s memorial page or share an online condolence, please visit
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