Former HSU music dean dies


Dr. Wesley Coffman, former dean of the Music School at Hardin-Simmons University (1981-1995), died last week.

Dr. Coffman devoted his life to Texas music education in the church, the school, and the community. For generations to come, Texas musicians will be shaped by his influence.

Peggy Pattillo, Dr. Coffman’s administrative assistant at HSU, said “Dr. Coffman was a gentle man…a good man to work for. No matter your place in life, he cared about you. He never wanted to bring attention to himself, but was always there praising others. He was a mentor and friend to all.” 

During his service at Hardin-Simmons University, he formulated the plans for a new music building and the complete renovation of an existing building. He tenaciously fought for his dream and convinced the University Administration to raise the funds necessary to build what is now the Hemphill Music Building and the complete restoration of old Caldwell Hall. 

Completion of this project has given the School of Music a beautiful home for his true passion in life of educating students. He retired before the project was complete, but was present for the dedications of both buildings. 

His second goal was to have a support foundation for the School of Music. He had amazing organizational skills and employed these skills in the shaping and design of the Hardin-Simmons University School of Music Foundation. 

Today the School of Music Foundation has a membership composed of former students and friends who maintain Dr. Coffman’s dream of supporting the activities of the School of Music.

Photo: The HSU community honors Coffman’s contributions and mourns his passing with the flag at half staff; Hemphill Building; Caldwell Hall; stained glass ceiling uncovered in Caldwell during renovation
Below is Dr. Coffman’s obituary:

Wesley Surber Coffman was born June 17, 1927, in Ardmore, Oklahoma to George Wesley Coffman and Mayme Rebecca Surber and died September 13, 2009 in Dallas, Texas.

He is survived by his wife of 60 years Elaine Russell Coffman; his son and wife, Russell and Hilary Coffman of Pecos, New Mexico; his daughter and her husband, Cathy and Barrett Pulham of Mesquite, Texas; his daughter Rebecca Coffman of Huntington, Indiana; his grandchildren Sara and Yusuf Coffman of Santa Fe, New Mexico; his great grandson, Joseph Coffman of Santa Fe, New Mexico; his sister-in-law and her husband, Nancy and George Mixon of Dallas, Texas; his niece and her husband, Patt and Chuck Martin of Shawnee, Oklahoma; and dear family friend Mary Ransom of DeSoto, Texas.

Wesley served in the U. S. Navy during World War II and completed his education at the University of North Texas and Florida State University. He was a music educator and church musician and served schools and churches in Sherman, Houston and Dallas, finishing his career as Dean of the School of Music at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas.

Memorials may be made to the School of Music Foundation at Hardin-Simmons University or the Jeff Herrick Music Scholarship at Dallas Baptist University.


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