16 March 2018

Born with Irish roots on St. Patrick’s Day in a Catholic parish named for St. Patrick, Kate Coffey said, “I’ve been lucky all my life.” The Brookdale Grants Pass Springs resident credits her Gaelic blood and timing of her birth for her happy nature.  With the community holding its St. Patrick’s Day party on Coffey’s 76th birthday, she says she wouldn’t miss the fun for anything. Brookdale Grants Pass Springs will celebrate at 2 p.m., March 17 with live Celtic music by Anwyn & George Leverett.

Coffey’s Irish heritage comes from her paternal grandparents, who sailed to the United States in the 19th century in search of a better life. “My grandfather was a mason and thought surely there would be more work for him in this country than in Ireland,” Coffey said.

His belief bore fruit and they settled in the U.S. Coffey was born in upstate New York in 1942. She fondly recalls childhood birthday celebrations that coincided with St. Patrick’s Day festivities at her church.  Her good fortune has continued ever since, she said.

“I always had a job,” she said. “I wanted to go to medical school and I got in. Of course, I ended up having to leave because when I saw blood, I fainted. Can you imagine a doctor passing out every time she saw blood and taking everything down with her?”  

Upon leaving med school, she landed a position directing the Office for Aging in Plattsburgh, New York. Later, she moved to Arizona and then to Oregon. For the past seven years, she has resided at Brookdale Grants Pass Springs, where she has planted a flower garden for the community and teaches two Bible classes.

About March 17, she said: “I love dressing in green and I love corned beef and cabbage. I’m not sure about green beer. You know, I don’t think I’ve ever had it.”  But for Coffey, the food and drink are less important than the spirit of the occasion. “With everyone having so much fun, it feels like the whole world is celebrating my birthday along with St. Patrick’s Day.”

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