Saturday, March 28, 2020

RIP Phil Coffaro “The Token Yank of Strandhill”

It was with great sadness that I discovered the obituary of Phil Coffaro. Phil lived among us in Strandhill for a number of years and always referred to himself as “The token Yank of Strandhill”. A kind, gentle and humorous man, he lived in an apartment above Shells CafĂ© and was well known and liked around the village and in the Venue. An ardent sports fan, his first love was baseball, which he played in his youth; he also followed rugby and soccer, especially his favourite team – Chelsea. His other great passion was writing and he was part of my Creative Writing workshop in Dolly’s Cottage.

He was a small, round-faced man with a moustache and a baseball cap and I always remember him with a bundle of writing under his arm. You’d see him out and about the village, sometimes hobbling along, when the sea air played havoc with his arthritis. He left us for Meza Arizona, where the climate agreed with him better. But he loved Strandhill and came back and visited - members of the writers’ group met him for a pizza in Bella Vista one time. He talked of another visit.

We corresponded annually at Christmas and he was always mad for news of the village and the other writers.  When I didn’t receive a letter from him last year, I thought nothing of it but, a couple of weeks ago, the Christmas letter I sent him was returned unopened. I checked on Twitter and his account was closed. Then I found his obituary. Phil died unexpectedly in Arizona on July 31st 2018 aged 63. He was a great guy. The world is poorer for his loss.

For those of us who knew him, here is a recording of Phil reading his wonderful short story A Native American in London. This was recorded in Dolly’s Cottage for the Dolly Mixtures (Voices from Dolly’s Cottage) anthology in 2005.