Mr. Coffey eventually quit as a partner at Kirkland & Ellis and moved to the city to become Washington’s chief of intergovernmental affairs and one of the inner troika of trusted advisers running the mayor’s first administration.
“Tom, from his youngest days growing up, had a sense of social justice, a sense of commitment shown by his service in the Marine Corps,” said high school friend and Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin. “When you combine the tenacity of a Marine and the moral leadership of a social activist, you end up with a committed person like Tom Coffey. He was focused on getting to what was right.”
Mr. Coffey went on to found Haymarket Public Strategies, a political consulting and government lobbying firm whose clients ranged from future U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun to future President Joe Biden.
“It is easy to see why Mayor Washington has so much confidence in you,” Biden wrote to him in 1986.
Thomas Patrick Coffey was born Sept. 11, 1944, the first child of John and Billie Coffey. His father was an official in the city’s economic development commission. Growing up in St. Thomas More Parish, 85th and Western, he graduated from Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary.
In 1966, he earned an English degree from Loras College, a Catholic, liberal arts school in Dubuque, Iowa. At Loras, he met Mary Alice Butler of Oak Park. They married in 1968.
Mr. Coffey studied law at DePaul University, getting his law degree in 1968, a year many Americans were concentrating on avoiding the draft. Instead, he enlisted in the Marines, serving as a JAG lawyer stationed in Okinawa.
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