Obituary Details

Harry Buffington Coffee

(03/16/1890 - 10/03/1972)
Courtesy of The Harrison Sun, 10/12/1972

Harry B. Coffee, Former Congressman of Nebraska, Dies in Omaha Oct. 3

Harry Buffington Coffee, 82, native of Sioux County, former Nebraska Congressman and a major figure in the livestock industry, died in Omaha October 3.

He was born on a Sioux County ranch March 16, 1890. His father, Samuel Buffington Coffee died in 1900, and he was reared by an uncle, Col. C. F. Coffee, one of the original blazers of the Chisholm Trail.

Coffee was a past president and board chairman of Union Stock Yards Company. He had been involved in the livestock industry more than 50 years.

A Democrat, he served four consecutive terms in the House. He was first elected in 1934 from the old 5th District, which comprised 32 counties west of Grand Island.

In Congress he served on the House Committee on Agriculture and was regarded as a major spokesman for the livestock industry.

He was defeated in 1942 when he ran for the U. S. Senate, and retired from politics.

That same year he was named president of Union Stock Yards Co., and it subsidiary, the South Omaha Terminal Railway Co.

During his 18-year presidency, he was credited with a key role in making the Omaha stockyards the largest market in the world, surpassing Chicago in 1951. He was named chairman of the board in 1961.

Coffee was a 1913 graduate of the University of Nebraska and served as a lieutenant in the Army Air Corps in World War I.

Prior to his military service he returned to Chadron to organize the Coffee Cattle Co., a family corporation that was run by Guy H. (Chick) Coffee for so many years before they sold out to the Nunns about 1951. Chick died early this year, Harry Coffee was president of the corporation for 35 years. Shortly after his graduation, he also established and operated a real estate and insurance business at Chadron.

In 1935 he married Katharine Newbranch Douglas.

In 1952 he was elected the 58th King of Ak-Sar-Ben.

A civic leader, Coffee served as first chairman of Omaha's sanitation commission. For years he was a trustee of the University of Nebraska Foundation and a member of the board of directors of Children's Memorial Hospital. He became an Ak-Sar-Ben Governor in 1943.

Survivors include his widow, Katharine; a stepdaughter, Mrs. Richard Brega, Long Beach, Calif.; a brother Rex, of Chadron and a sister, Mrs. John B. Cooke, Scottsbluff.

Funeral services were held Friday in Omaha.

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