One of the Last World War I Veterans Dies at 109

Published December 21, 2007

| Associated Press

The last World War I veteran in Ohio, and one of only three known remaining U.S. veterans of the conflict, has died.

J. Russell Coffey was the last WWI vet in the state, according to the Veterans Affairs Department. He died Thursday at the age of 109, said the Smith-Crates Funeral Home in North Baltimore, about 35 miles south of Toledo.

The funeral home did not say where Coffey died or the cause of death. He had been living in the Blakely Care Center, a nursing home.

Coffey, born Sept. 1, 1898, did not see action overseas. He enlisted in the Army while he was a student at Ohio State University in October 1918, a month before the Allied powers and Germany signed a cease-fire agreement.

Coffey played semipro baseball, earned a doctorate in education from New York University, taught high school and college and raised a family.

He drove his car until he was 104 and lived on his own until three years ago, according to the funeral home.

The other known surviving American soldiers are Frank Buckles, 106, of Charles Town, W.Va., and Harry Landis, of Sun City Center, Fla., according to the Veterans Affairs Department.

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