Alzheimer’s disease has claimed the life of a special citizen of Springfield, Illinois with the passing of Brenton Coffey recently. Mr. Coffey was well-known and loved because he was a blind street musician playing his accordion and later whistling in downtown Springfield since the 1950’s. I worked downtown for many years and recall him as a pleasant and permanent fixture performing on the Old State Capitol Plaza for donations with a sign reading “Today may something beautiful happen to you. God Bless.” He was a gentle soul sharing his love of music. When he disappeared from the downtown scene sometime around 2006, I did not know what happened until an article on his death appeared this week in the local newspaper.
The final chapter in Mr. Coffey’s story was that he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2006 and spent his remaining years in a nursing home until his death at the age of 91. While Alzheimer’s did extinguish Brenton Coffey’s life in a final cruel blow, it will never erase the memories of him playing music and visiting with Springfieldians downtown. May he rest in eternal peace now, and may God bless his surviving family as they remember the warmth and happiness he spread throughout our community. As his sign hinted, Brenton Coffey made something beautiful happen for the people of Springfield for over fifty years. And that is quite a legacy to leave behind. Read the linked article to learn more about this extraordinary man and for some touching comments in tribute.
Image courtesy of the State Journal-Register