Basketball fan and former coach Ed Coffin, left, had his favorite seat commemorated with a yellow paint job and a personalized plaque that was unveiled by center director Earl Kingsbury on Feb. 14, 2019, at the Augusta Civic Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

AUGUSTA — Ed Coffin was a fiery man who served two terms on the City Council and founded the successful Augusta firm of E.S. Coffin Engineering & Surveying.

But it was likely neither of those parts of his life where Coffin, who died Sept. 19, had the greatest impact.

As a youth basketball, baseball and softball coach, and a charter member of the group of volunteers that founded the Capital Area Recreation Association, which oversees numerous athletic fields for youths in Augusta, Coffin was an inspiring figure in the lives of hundreds of Augusta’s kids.

Basketball fan and former coach Ed Coffin speaks during an interview Feb. 14, 2019, at the Augusta Civic Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec journal file

“Ed Coffin was enthusiastic, eager to compete, to win, eager to connect with young players to open them up to the possibilities of what commitment and hard work could yield,” said Augusta Mayor David Rollins, who served with Coffin on the City Council and had him as his coach on the eighth grade St. Mary’s basketball team. “He was an iconic figure and part of the persona of the city of Augusta.”

Coffin, 89, died at his Cony Road home after what family members described as a valiant fight against cancer.

In 1973, Coffin, who had been working as a resident engineer for the state of Maine where he designed bridge structures and created computer software, left the state to form Coffin Engineering & Surveying, a firm that is today run by his sons, James and Kane.


The firm grew and, according to his obituary, invested in computers and was an early user in the industry of color in its drawings for projects. He also was involved in Coffin Advanced Technologies, a firm that created software for surveyors.

He coached youth basketball for decades, and also served as a basketball referee, remaining involved in the sport he loved until he was 72.

He also coached youth baseball and softball in Augusta, and provided ongoing technical, design and engineering services as a volunteer with CARA, whose volunteers oversee an extensive complex of youth athletic fields along Piggery Road, between Hospital Street and Cony Road in Augusta.

Hundreds of Augusta youths played for him over the years.

“When you go through life, you want to make a difference, and most people would be happy to do that in the lives of one or two people,” said Earl Kingsbury, community services director for the city of Augusta who, until recently, oversaw operations of the Augusta Civic Center, which annually hosts high school basketball tournaments. “Ed’s coaching, and his nature, made a difference in the lives of hundreds of people.”

Kingsbury and others said Coffin, a huge fan of high school basketball, rarely missed a game at the civic center.


Basketball fan and former coach Ed Coffin’s favorite seat is commemorated with an yellow paint job and a personalized plaque that was unveiled Feb. 14, 2019, at the Augusta Civic Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

He was such a mainstay that he has his own dedicated seat, painted in bright yellow because Coffin usually wore a bright yellow coat. And it has a nameplate that reads “Coach Coffin.” Kingsbury said he thinks the yellow seat, the only one of that color in the auditorium, and nameplate will remain in place in Coffin’s honor.

Officials there dedicated the seat to him because, Kingsbury said, he was a basketball legend in the state and always sat in that one seat, section 17, row H, seat 17, one seat in from the aisle.

When the seat was dedicated to him, Coffin said he liked that spot in part because it was above the rim. The seat has a view down the baseline of the basketball court on the north end of the arena.

“He thought it gave him the perfect angle to see every aspect of what’s going on,” Kingsbury said.

Ed Coffin, seen in December 2009 outside his business, died Sunday, Sept. 19. He was a longtime coach and former Augusta city councilor. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

Kingsbury said when he and his wife moved to Augusta 33 years ago they didn’t have any family there, and Coffin and his wife, May Ross Coffin, treated them like their own family, spending Christmas Eve together for many years.

Coffin joked with a reporter that he stopped serving on the Augusta City Council — he didn’t run for a third term after serving from 2006 to 2011 — because it was interfering with attending the annual basketball tournaments.

Rollins said when he and Coffin were on the council they spent many mornings at the home of Julie and Mark O’Brien, Coffin’s daughter and son-in-law who are also active in local politics, “where we had political roundtables, and figured out the problems of the world.”

In 2006 Coffin received the Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award. He was president of the Maine Land Surveyors and was Maine Surveyor of the Year in 1999. And he was a published author and researcher, with works including “The Early Freeport Settlers,” and also created historic period maps of his native Freeport as well as Pownal and Harpswell.

“He lived a full, rich life,” Rollins said. “Ed was a great man and was truly loved by a lot of people, and remembered fondly by a lot of youngsters.”

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