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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

COAKLEY, JOHN ALOYSIUS - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

COAKLEY, JOHN ALOYSIUS (22 Sept. 1881-18 May 1950), manufacturer, was both an authority on industrial transportation and a philanthropist. For his contributions as a Catholic layperson, he was made Master Knight of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. Coakley was born in Pittsburgh to Thomas F. and Agnes (Quinn) Coakley (originally from Vermont). Educated in parochial grammar school, he began working at age 11, as an office boy for the Pennsylvania Railroad in Pittsburgh. After several promotions, Coakley moved to Cleveland in 1904 as Division Freight Agent for American Steel & Wire. He attended night school and graduated from BALDWIN-WALLACE COLLEGE with an A.B. (1908) and from Cleveland Law School with an L.L.B. (1912). He passed the bar that year, although he never practiced law. Coakley became vice-president in charge of traffic for American Steel & Wire in 1927; in 1932 he became General Traffic Manager for operations of U. S. Steel. In 1937 Coakley resigned to become president and chair of the "Automatic" Sprinkler Corporation of America (later FIGGIE INTERNATIONAL, INC.), which he had helped create along with George A. Neracher. With offices in the Perry-Payne Building in Cleveland, he also supervised the company's Youngstown, Ohio plant.

A Republican, Coakley chaired the boards of directors of the Marjon Co. of Delaware and the Cleveland Stevedore Company of Ohio, and served on the boards of New Castle Refractories (PA), the Swindell Dressler Corp (PA), the Midland Bank, and other companies, some of which he founded. He was a trustee of the Catholic Charities Corporation (which he helped organize) and a member of the boards of Associated Charities and St. Ann's Hospital (see SAINT ANN FOUNDATION), among others. Georgetown University awarded him an honorary doctorate posthumously, in 1950.

On 23 Jan 1912 in Cleveland, Coakley married Marie Louise Beckman. They lived on Berkshire Rd. in CLEVELAND HEIGHTS and maintained a country home in Huron, Ohio. The couple had 11 children: John A., Jr., Mary V. (Mrs. Tomas E.) Morton, Agnes R. (Mrs. John J.) Power; Ann (Mrs. Edward) Egan; Henry B.; Sister Margaret Mary; 2 sons named Thomas F. (one deceased); William D.; Ellen T. (Mrs. Michael) O'Neil; and Joseph C. In his son's memory, Coakley established the Henry Beckman Coakley Foundation for education.

Coakley, Thomas. Letters of John A. Coakley to his Family and Friends (1957), WRHS.

Last Modified: 14 Jul 1997 03:55:46 PM

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