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Obituary: Glenn Cofield, A Brother’s Keeper

By John Cofield
Hottytoddy.com Contributor

Glenn Cofield. Photo courtesy Raymond James.

I was never Glenn’s keeper; if anything he was mine. I know brothers that get along in various degrees from love to hate, and sadly too many brothers live without love between them. I have heard many friends I have known say, “She is not just my wife, she is my best friend.” Glenn Cofield was not just my brother, he was my best friend.

John Cofield, Santa, Glenn Cofield, 1961. Photo by Ed Meek.

He was a “keeper” in every way, and I’m in good company with those he kept, for there are thousands of us. Friends from every chapter of his life have showered us with love and support. More than once a year, Park Drive friends from the Cofield boys’ great childhoods have called, and upon hearing their voice I was transformed back to those happy times when Glenn’s love of life was on full display.

The Cofield boys had the run of the place, or at least we thought we did. Our cool old Granddaddy Cofield had his photography studio just off the Square, while Dad had his office in the Lyceum. We rode our bikes all over town and campus from the day school got out in early summer until they made us go back that fall. We charged candy and cokes on the Square, and when the lady asked us at Leslie’s Drug Store once if this was to be put on Dad or Granddad’s account, I remember Glenn laughing, “We don’t care!”

Park Drive was more than a street, it was a big family. Pictured here are Glenn and me with our next-door neighbors, the Goodman girls, Lynn (left) and Kathy. I think the picture says what Glenn and I feel, that the Goodman girls were not just our neighbors, they are our little sisters. We are all four attached to the heart. We taught the girls to swim down at the pool on Bramlett. We taught them to ride their bikes. The girls and their mama and daddy, Sarah and Richard, taught the Cofield boys about the love and fellowship to be found in the closest of family friends.

Glenn was an Eagle Boy Scout, in more ways than the sash of merit badges he earned. He loved his scouting years and summers at Camp Yocona and those days helped mold the honest man he was.

We were carefree, along with all our classmates and buddies all running around “the Little Easy” proving to ourselves that Jack Cofield was right when he often said, “Oxford is the best-kept secret in America.” But Oxford grew up and out of its Mayberry days, and so did the Cofield Boys.

Glenn was a popular kid. I can remember some cute, little girl coming up to me at an Oxford High basketball game 40-something years ago and asking me to please call her house and let her know if my little brother broke up with his current girlfriend so she could be his new girlfriend. I was 16 years old, and being that she was calling my brother’s ugly mug cute, all I could do was roll my eyes and walk off in disgust. Some brothers are jealous of each other. But make no mistake about it, from day one on Oct. 5, 1961, I was always his biggest fan, and he was mine.

I can hear Glenn now, “They spelled it wrong again!” Photo from 1979 Oxford High School annual.

Part of this tragedy has returned my mind to the heartfelt feelings I had several years back when fellow Oxford High School classmate Kevin Coleman passed away before his time, and his obituary said that although he had left Oxford many years ago, and started his family and career far up north, he always looked back on his seasons as an Oxford Charger third baseman as among the happiest days of his life. That could not be truer in the case of the OHS lefty pitcher Glenn Cofield. Pictured here is a who’s who of Oxford men from the late 1970s, and my brother’s closest buddies.

Oxford High School 1979 South Champions, Glenn is standing in back row, the first “number 1” finger from the left side. Photo courtesy Mel Davis.

He treasured his friendship with them all. But moreover, Glenn loved people and cared deeply for all his friendships. Hundreds out there will read this and sadly nod knowing exactly what I mean when I say they felt they had a special one-on-one connection with this gregarious Cofield, and you did.

“I can’t remember when I didn’t know and love Glenn, is the best of friends. When weeks and even months pass between talks and we finally catch up, it’s as if no time has passed at all. We will still have our talks and I forever rely on his sage advice.” — Joey Mistilis

Some think that I must live in Oxford, but I am in Memphis just down the road from Glenn. But like Glenn, our hearts will always be there on the Lafayette County Courthouse lawn sitting on a bench on a beautiful slow moving Sunday afternoon. Glenn had numerous clients in Oxford and when he would head south for business, he’d call and tell me he was swinging by and I had 30 minutes to be ready and outside standing on the curb, and then off we would go to Oxford. Once while riding to Oxford Glenn received a call, and it was on speaker, and it was his old fraternity brother William. They talked for a short while and then when he hung up. I asked him, “Is William your best buddy?” Without hesitation, he smiled and nodded, “Aw yeah, William is my best friend.”

Fraternity brothers William Douglass and Glenn Cofield.

It is worth remembering that Glenn loved Kappa Alpha at Ole Miss with all his heart. His motto was pretty much, “KA is the best and the heck with all the rest!” He was always concerned about the sons of friends’ as incoming freshmen, and he reached out to many of them. He once proudly said after one fraternity bid day, “Dadgum I’m getting good, I got that boy a KA and a Sigma Chi bid!” As it turned out the guy pledged Sigma Chi and not KA, but all that mattered to Glenn was that the kid was happy. Kappa Alpha at Ole Miss made for many a happy year for my little brother.

One Saturday after an Ole Miss game Dad required us all at the studio for a family photo shoot. He got us arranged, set the camera, and walked out into the Country Village Mall hall looking for someone to snap the shot. There stood Mayor John Leslie and he was more than happy to help. But when he finished, John told us there was a $10 shudder fee for his services. Dad demanded he take it out in liquid trade, and I still have the image, standing with Glenn watching Jack and John laughing heading for the Warehouse bar. As it would turn out, this is the only family photo we have of just the five of us.

Standing from left, Glenn, Bess and John, seated, Jack and Martha Glenn. Photo by John Leslie.

On other rides back to our hometown, Ole Miss sports took up many hours of conversation. No one could get madder about Ole Miss football, and at the same time be the biggest “we’ll get ’em next season” optimist around. When we beat Alabama in 2014, the day before his birthday, I called him the next morning and said I knew that was the happiest birthday morning he’d ever had. He came back at me with, “Hell yes, damn right!” I knew that two of Glenn’s sons were at the game and I was certain they were part of the crowd celebrating on the field. I told Glenn it made me proud to know that two Cofields had jumped the rail and hit the field running. He looked a little embarrassed and with a sideways glance said, “Make that three Cofields.”

Photo courtesy Ole Miss Athletics.

Glenn left Ole Miss for his first accounting job in Houston, Texas, and in several years returned to Memphis and began his accounting and investment career. And then he made the best move of his life. Natalie Fisher Cofield is the best thing that ever happened to Glenn, and he told me so often. At his recent 40th class reunion he went with Natalie, telling me, “I might not want to go if I couldn’t walk in with my beautiful wife on my arm.”

Oxford High School Class of 1979 Reunion held a few weeks back at Johnny Morgan’s shop.

“Glenn was one of my oldest friends. We started Mrs. Young’s kindergarten together. In 1979, when Glenn was elected Mr. OHS, I don’t think anyone ever thought it would be someone else. We knew ahead of time. We would always talk after our reunions to rehash all the goings on and to laugh remembering all the good times. We did on May 26th after this year’s 40th. Didn’t know it would be the last time I would ever get to talk to him. I can’t believe he’s gone in such a senseless tragedy. I will miss him always.” — John Morgan

The day Glenn told me that he had never felt that way about a girl until he saw Natalie, I knew he had found his soulmate. Mother and Natalie were both Ole Miss Kappa Deltas and that was extra icing on Mom’s cake for her daughter-in-law to be a sister as well. I’ve known in-laws that never warmed up to each other, but there was no greater love than that between Glenn and Natalie’s father, Scott Fisher of Memphis. Natalie’s mother, Mary Alice, has lost her only “son.”

Glenn and Natalie Cofield. Photo courtesy of John Cofield.

My nephews have all three been the greatest of blessings to their old Uncle John. Glenn would say, “They are my sons, but they’re your boys too.” Some dads love their children but never get lucky enough to be buddies with them. Glenn was tight buddies with all three of his and he and I lived vicariously through their successes and happy times. Until Friday night, every time my phone rang I hoped it was Glenn before I knew if it was or wasn’t. It would be him and I’d light up and he always said, “Hey what are you doing?” For the rest of my life when my phone rings, I will be reminded that no matter who it is, it’s not Glenn.

Glenn with his boys Andrew, Houston and Scott at the Colosseum in Rome. Little Andrew is not little anymore and will be an Ole Miss freshman this fall. Photo courtesy of John Cofield.
Glenn and John Cofield at the Chancellor’s House in Oxford. Photo by Joey Brent.

“Through four generations the Cofield family has been an important and much-loved part of Oxford and Ole Miss, and our shared history. Glenn’s grandfather, J. R. “Colonel” Cofield was my photography mentor when I came to Ole Miss as a freshman in 1958. The years would pass and Glenn’s father, Jack Cofield, and I worked side-by-side at Ole Miss Public Relations for 20 years. I was there when Glenn was born and to know I’ll be there as he is laid to rest is a blow I’ll never get over. God Bless the memories of the three Cofield generations who have now gone on before us. Lord hold the Cofield family close at heart while they seek peace and understanding. Like all the Cofield family friends in Oxford, Becky and I are just heartbroken. God Bless Glenn.” —Ed Meek

A reporter called and asked me what Glenn had done in his life. When I thought about it I quickly realized that my little brother was far more than the office manager for Raymond James Financial Services in Memphis. He loved his church family and served as a Deacon and had been the head usher for 20 years. He was co-founder and board member of Paragon Bank of Memphis. He served on the board of The Memphis Country Club. Glenn was past Treasurer and President of Carnival Memphis, member of the FedEx St. Jude Golf Tournament Committee of 100 and a board member of the Institute of Management Accountants. He was the owner of Cofield Press and published his first book, written by me, “Oxford, Mississippi, the Cofield Collection,” in 2017. Recently, Glenn was honored in Oxford with the dedication of the Cofield Reading Room at the Chancellor’s House hotel. The only pride we felt as brothers was for our old granddaddy Cofield who brought the family to town in 1928.

Photo courtesy of John Cofield.

Glenn Walton Cofield is survived by his wife Natalie Fisher Cofield; three sons, James H. Cofield and his wife Kristen, Scott W. Cofield and Andrew G. Cofield, all of Memphis. A sister, Amma E. Cofield and her lifetime partner Mark Dingeldein of Jackson, MS. Glenn’s mother-in-law Mary Alice Fisher of Memphis. A half-sister Kathy Barnwell of Jacksonville, FL. An Aunt, Martha L. Stephens and first cousins John and James Stephens of North Carolina, and numerous Mississippi cousins, and me.

Glenn was preceded in death by his parents, John Robert “Jack” Cofield, Jr. and Martha Glenn Stephens Cofield; a brother Robert M. Cofield; and his father-in-law Thomas Scott Fisher.

The memorial service will be Saturday at 12:00 noon at Independent Presbyterian Church of Memphis. Visitation will be from 10:30 until noon at the church.

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