A simple street sign bearing the name of M.L. Coffer is a small gesture to a man who defined servant leadership in Liberty County, according to those who have succeeded him and now shoulder similar responsibilities as community leaders.
Liberty County Development Authority board members and staff, Liberty County commissioners, Midway city officials, State Rep. Al Williams, Liberty County Sheriff Bill Sikes, Rev. John Ryan with Mt. Olivet Methodist Church, family members and friends gathered under rainy skies Saturday to pay tribute to M. L. Coffer and dedicate a sign for the road named for Coffer in the Tradeport East development park.
Coffer served as a County Commission Chairman for 16 years, from 1983-1998. In addition, he chaired the development authority, served on the Coastal Electric Cooperative board of directors, was a volunteer firefighter, worked with the Boy Scouts and is a member of the Lions Club Hall of Fame.
The road, which is under construction inside Tradeport East, will run south from Sunbury Road. A 700-foot section of the road is being paved to link Sunbury Road with the new Western Power Sports facility; it will be extended for future developments. It has been referred to as the southeast access road.
“You have given selflessly,” Williams said. The state legislator said Coffer would always stop and ask what he could do to help others who were working to better the community. “You were always a man of your word,” Williams said of Coffer. Williams said he intends to bring a resolution to the state House, to honor Coffer’s achievements.
“Mr. Coffer is a humble man,” LCDA Board Chair and Hinesville Mayor Allen Brown said. Brown, along with Liberty County Commission Chairman Donald Lovette, said they learned from the example Coffer set.
“Leadership is about giving service to the citizens you love,” Lovette said. “I hope you are proud of the progress we’ve made and are making.”
Coffer then spoke briefly in a soft and wavering voice, but with an apparently sharp sense of humor still intact.
“I learned the three ‘S’s from my father,” he said. “Stand up, speak up and shut up.”
He added, “I tried to follow in his footsteps.”
Coffer visibly teared up, thanking all for honoring him and for attending the dedication ceremony. He expressed gratitude to his Lord for his blessings, which included his long and happy marriage to his late wife Beverly, who died in 2014, and the devoted love and support he receives from his “fine family.” Coffer has two daughters, Angie Rogers and Amy Bowen, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. District 4 Commissioner Pat Bowen is one of his sons-in-law; the other is David Rogers.
“I enjoy working with people….I always have,” Coffer said.
Senior reporter Joe Parker Jr. contributed to this story.