Kathy Coffee remembered, honored with Farm Bureau award

Published 6:29 am Friday, December 8, 2023

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She was a business owner, a school board member and, as school officials said, the epitome of Charger Pride. Kathy Coffee was also a well-known farmer in Lunenburg County. It was that last part Virginia Farm Bureau members gathered to both remember her for and pay tribute to, during their meeting last week. 

Coffee, who passed away in August, was posthumously honored by the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Women’s Leadership Committee, named as this year’s Outstanding Woman in Agriculture. 

The award recognizes women for achievements in and contributions to the agriculture industry. Coffee’s husband, Billy, was present during the Nov. 29 recognition, where the Women’s Leadership Committee said they will plant a dogwood tree on the Coffee family farm in her honor.

Coffee, who served as District 11 chair on the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Women’s Leadership Committee, died from an illness in August. Prior to her recent appointment to that body, she was a member of the Lunenburg County Farm Bureau Women’s Committee for more than 40 years. 

“Kathy brought so much to the table with her knowledge, her devotion to the farming community and her extensive involvement with Farm Bureau,” said Faye Hundley, VFBF Women’s Leadership Committee chair, during the presentation. “She’d been a fixture in the women’s program for years and exemplified what it means to be a leading woman in agriculture. The Women’s Leadership Program will cherish her memory and draw inspiration from her work on agriculture’s behalf.”

Remembering Kathy Coffee

The Coffees founded W.J. Coffee Farms in 1979 in Kenbridge. They served on the VFBF Young Farmers Committee, and in 1988, they were named the VFBF Young Farmers of the Year. The award highlights young farmers who are successful in production agriculture and provide leadership on and off the farm.

Farm Bureau leaders remember Kathy Coffee as a dedicated advocate for agriculture and farm families and it was that dedication that earned her the recognition of VFBF Farm Woman of the Year in 1999. The accolade honors farm women whose achievements mark the importance of women to their family farms and agriculture.

Coffee attended American Farm Bureau Federation’s Annual Convention several times as a voting delegate, along with her husband. In addition to her work with Farm Bureau, she was appointed by multiple Virginia governors over the last 20 years to serve on the Virginia Agricultural Council.

Paying tribute

“Kathy was very service- and community-oriented. I think everybody in the county knew who she was,” shared Lisa Tucker, Lunenburg County Farm Bureau Women’s Committee chair. “She loved having Farm Day (a school field trip event) at her place where kids would come out and learn about the farm. She was always so kind and positive.”

Richard Hite, Lunenburg County Farm Bureau president, shared that the county Farm Bureau was “very lucky” that Coffee was involved. “She read to students during Agriculture Literacy Week, was always at the annual meetings and would host some of the county Farm Bureau board dinners,” he said. “She was well-liked in the Farm Bureau community. We miss her dearly.”

A lifelong Lunenburg County native, Coffee enjoyed farm life, spending time with her family, serving on local county boards and committees, and running her businesses, Coffee’s Tax Service and Coffee’s Custom Embroidery. She and her husband raised tobacco on their Kenbridge farm before transitioning into cattle and grain.