Surrounded by his loving wife, cherished family and devoted friends, Providence Police Detective John J. Coughlin, Jr.,“Coff,” 54, died Saturday June 16, 2012 after a courageous battle with a sudden illness. He will be remembered by all as larger than life, who made everyone he touched a happier and better person. From the down and out to the wealthy; the average Joe to even some he arrested, Coff was a decent and fair man who treated everyone with civility and respect. Physically imposing but with the warmth of a teddy bear, Coff’s way was to be gentle. It was, at his core, who he was. To be fortunate enough to receive a hug from John, was one of life’s truest pleasures. His genuine kindness love and affection for people was felt by all who knew him.
His life was a tapestry of family, friends, loyalty, tradition and service to others. From the earliest days in Elmhurst where his house was the place for the boys to meet; to St. Pius, the Boy Scouts and CYO; to LaSalle Academy where he was a varsity basketball standout; to Villanova University where his passion for bringing people together in a common cause and his love for sports intersected; to Roger Williams University where he received his criminal justice degree, Coff was focused on what mattered—what was important. The strong bonds he created in his short life can never be severed.
As his life unfolded, the tapestry expanded. Coff was driven to make a difference in the world. From supporting multiple charities, to good works for the FOP and numerous individual community and charitable events he spear-headed or participated in, to his beloved Newport Polar Bears, Coff was a tireless advocate for a cause. His final charitable act was also his crowning achievement, even though he was in the hospital. Before he died Coff made sure that a $175,000 check was presented to LaSalle Academy for memorial scholarships in the name of his best friend, the late John Duffy Dwyer. This selfless act alone speaks volumes about this man.
As a dedicated Providence Police officer for 27 years, from Patrol, to special task forces to Detective, Coff was respected by colleagues and criminals. Quiet and smart, proud of the title he carried; Coff never bragged about his job and always honored the badge. Being a police officer was a calling and commitment he loved and valued.
Coff was a member of the Providence Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge # 3, where he served on the Board of Directors for fifteen years, and also served as the Chaplin and Trustee for the union. During his career, Coff was awarded several Chief’s Awards for outstanding police work, as well as numerous Merit and Citation Awards. He was also a member of the Department Honor Guard, the Newport Elks Lodge # 104 and the Master Masons, Thomas Smith Webb, Lodge # 43.
Finally, the single most important thing for the past 12 years was his marriage and devotion to his wife Monica. Together, they built a life full of fun, travel, P.C. Basketball games, and summers at Bonnet Shores. He loved the home they made together and the joy they shared in making it a beautiful and comfortable place. While John remained a man of few words, there was never any doubt that his home, forever, was with Monica.
John is survived by his wife Monica, his mother, Jean Coughlin Pike and the late Dr. John J. Coughlin; his sisters, Dr. Cynthia Hanna and her husband Dr. George Hanna, Janet Rose and her husband Raymond Rose, and Sharon Castellano and her husband Michael Castellano, and thirteen loving nieces and nephews. He is also survived by Monica’s parents, Wilfred and Hazel Cayer.
The funeral will be held Thursday morning, at 8:30 am, from the Russell J. Boyle & Son Funeral Home, 331 Smith Street, Providence. Mass of Christian Burial at 10:00 am in Saint Pius V Church, Eaton Street, Providence. Burial will be in Saint Columba Cemetery, Middletown. Visiting hours Wednesday 4 – 8 pm.
In lieu of flowers donations to the Providence Animal Rescue League, 34 Elbow Street, Providence, RI 02903 or The Rhode Island Shriners, One Rhodes Place, Cranston, RI 02905 in John’s memory will be appreciated.