Purpose of life is no mystery

Stone Mountain 98-year-old says it’s all about others

Elizabeth Coffed isn’t one to fret about her longevity and purpose in life. Bringing joy to others is reason enough for the 98-year-old to make the most of each day.

“If you do something positive during the day for somebody, that’s why you are still here,” said Coffed.

The resident of Park Springs, a senior living community in Stone Mountain, Coffed runs the community’s puzzle program and was recently awarded the LeadingAge Georgia Positive Aging Award.

“At 98 years of age, she makes the rounds at Park Springs Life Plan Community and creates opportunities for engagement for her neighbors daily,” states a press release from Park Springs. “Always curious and active, Coffed uses her talents and interests to enrich her community.”

Coffed, a former nurse, said puzzles are beneficial for mental health as well as socialization, noting that people often stay 15 minutes or longer in conversation with their neighbors during puzzle sessions. In addition to bringing people together at Park Springs, puzzles give residents with insomnia something to do when they can’t sleep, she said.

On a recent afternoon when Coffed was contacted by The Champion, she explained she was in the process of sorting through donated puzzles, determining which to keep for her neighbors and which to donate to a yard sale. Not all puzzles are desired by Park Springs residents, she said, noting that puzzles with large amounts of water, sky and flowers are “very boring, not fun to do.”

A collector of more than 100 puzzles, Coffed is credited with reviving the popularity of puzzles at the senior living facility and has set up a second puzzle location at the facility’s fitness center.

From left back row: Park Springs Senior Executive Director Jeff Helms, Ellen Sutley, Richard Lascek; front row: Elizabeth “Boots” Coffed, Dr. Richard Reiling and Elizabeth Reiling.

“I enjoy meeting new people and learning their stories,” shared Coffed. “I find that interested people are truly the most interesting. Spending time with someone over conversation or a puzzle is how you build connections with others, which I believe is the key to a long and happy life.”

Over the years, Coffed has engaged in a range of activities. She played golf for years but “threw in the towel” at age 91 due to the wet grounds and hills of golf courses. For a time, she took up pétanque, a French game similar to bocce. She also was a member of a national champion cornhole team and plays Wii bowling—with a zero handicap.

“Some days I don’t feel like doing anything myself. I make sure I go out and do something,” she said adding that she might go to the exercise room and “lift a few weights or ride a bicycle.”

“I am always a positive person,” she said, “There are some people who enjoy being unhappy. That’s their makeup. I am always up for a good time.”

Coffed, who has two sons, six grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren, has written and published two memoirs about her early life living on a farm without electricity and modern conveniences.

“Boots is a ray of sunshine and the epitome of positive aging,” said Park Springs Executive Director Jeff Helms. “I cannot think of anyone more deserving for this honor and thank LeadingAge Georgia for recognizing her with this award.”

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