Reverend Gilbert Francis Cofer, 99, of Lewisetta, Va., died peacefully in his favorite chair on January 4, 2021.
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Born in Eunice, West Virginia on February 2, 1921, Rev. Cofer grew up in Alderson, WV. He was raised primarily by his mother, since his father traveled as a coal mine inspector. He graduated from Emory & Henry College, and committed his life to the service of God. He received his divinity degree from Duke University in 1946, and joined the Virginia Conference of the Methodist Church.
While at Duke, he met an undergraduate named Margaret Elizabeth Swofford of Hollis, NC, who became the love of his life. They married shortly after his graduation, and he began his ministry as a “circuit rider” for churches around Disputanta, Virginia. He became the youth minister of the Wesley Foundation at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, followed by assignment to Great Falls Methodist Church. Gil then became Director of Adult Ministries at the Conference offices in Richmond. In 1961, he was assigned as Executive Secretary for the Alexandria and Arlington Districts, where he was placed in charge of adult education for Northern Virginia and Director of Camp Highroad near Middleburg.
Gil is remembered most for his many years as Director of Camp Highroad. Camp Highroad provided week-long residential programs during the summer for children and teenagers from Northern Virginia. Campers built fond memories of swimming, archery, stargazing, horseback-riding, crafting, hiking, and camping in the rustic setting of the camp. During his tenure, Camp Highroad developed a year-round retreat center used by many groups. Highroad also hosted Camp Kentan, a program sponsored by Eunice Kennedy Shriver and the Civitans. Camp Kentan provided activities and fellowship opportunities for disabled children and adults.
Gil retired from the ministry to care for his wife Beth in 1975. They traveled in RV comfort for many years, eventually spending their winters at Venture Out on Cudjoe Key, Florida. Beth died on January 4, 2002, exactly 19 years before Gil’s death.
Reverend Cofer was predeceased by his parents, Richard Clyde Cofer and Laura Johanna (Gildersleeve) Cofer; his sister Eloise; and brothers Richard and Joseph. He is survived by his daughter, Mary Elizabeth Dix (Tom, deceased) of Lewisetta, VA and his sons Charles Gilbert Cofer (Emily) of Jacksonville, FL, and John Lewis Cofer of Knoxville, TN. He leaves 5 grandchildren, 8 great-grandchildren, one step great-grandchild, and many nieces and nephews.
Arrangements made through Welch Funeral Home, 10300 Richmond Rd., Warsaw, VA 22572. Internment of his ashes will be next to his wife in Shelby, NC, with a memorial service at a future date.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to The Westmoreland Players Theater, 16217 Richmond Rd, Callao, VA 22435, https://www.westmorelandplayers.org/ where he spent many happy hours helping. Memories appreciated at firstname.lastname@example.org.