Elder William Henry Coffman dedicated his life to service in the community and the church as a builder of people and facilities of education and worship. The foundations of his life were laid early. Bill, one of 11 children, was born in Lofton, Virginia, on March 13, 1910. He grew up attending Sunday School and loving the Lord Jesus. His family worked in construction where he learned carpentry and brick and stone masonry trades. When the Depression came, Bill obtained a job as a foreman at the Sullivan Rubber Company in Winchester, Virginia, and on Sundays served as a lay Baptist preacher, which gave him valuable experience he would use in his life work.
Ever the student, through personal Bible study, Bill discovered the doctrinal truth of the Sabbath. He then learned that a group of people, in addition to Seventh-day Baptists and members of the Church of God, were already keeping the Sabbath and he joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church. He felt the Lord was calling him to a different life commitment—to be a full-time pastor. Bill enrolled at Shenandoah Valley Academy in 1936 at the age of 25. He then attended Washington Missionary College. He continued to associate with a nursing student he had first met at Shenandoah, Esther Brent of Kilmarnock, Virginia. He and Esther married and one year later, in 1944, he graduated from WMC with theology and history majors. Along with his other responsibilities, he completed his M.A. from the Adventist Seminary at Andrews University in 1964.
Bill and Esther Coffman spent many years pioneering the Adventist work in Virginia. They established a pattern that would continue throughout their lives by being called by the conference to enter a community and lead believers to Christ, and then lead out in the building of a church and/or school to house the new believers. Knowing that the life and future of any church depends on its young people, Bill was also a major force behind opening or developing many elementary schools and several junior academies in the Columbia Union Conference. Bill and Esther also built 13 churches.
The William and Esther Coffman Endowment Fund was established by Esther Coffman and their five children: William Brant, Barbara Joan, Mary Ann, Steven Jay, and Cheryl Jean for the specific purpose of helping theology majors who have a strong desire to share the gospel of Christ in the local church and community.