Inspiring Strength 6

Robin Coffman Overcomes Tragedy With Humble Courage

Robbin Coffman lets out a quiet, modest laugh when told she is going to be part of this month’s issue of inspirational women. She doesn’t see herself as an inspiration, nor does she acknowledge what she does is courageous. From any outsider’s perspective, Coffman is living proof that strength and bravery often appear during tragedies. From her own perspective, she’s “just doing what needs to be done.”

When her husband, West Chester chiropractor Dr. Chris Coffman, died suddenly in a car accident on Lesourdsville West Chester Road last year, Coffman was stunned. The West Chester speech therapist was left with raising their four kids, a newly-earned real estate license, and a 25-year-old chiropractic business that was her husband’s passion. In shock, Coffman said the only thing she knew how to do was to keep going.

“I’m more of a behind-the-scenes kind of person. I don’t like to be in the spotlight,” she says. “I just do what needs to be done.”

It’s apparent that this has become her motto over the past year. In the face of heartbreak, Coffman has made it a priority to continue running her husband’s chiropractic office, West Chester Chiropractic Center on Cincinnati-Dayton Road, because she says helping people was his greatest passion in life.

“He cared about each and every one of his patients, and he worked tirelessly to help them with whatever issues they were having,” Coffman says of her husband. “He lived and breathed chiropractic. Because of that, it has always been part of our family.”

After moving to West Chester in 1988, Dr. Chris Coffman opened the very first chiropractic office in West Chester in 1989, and the young couple began to build their lives in the community. They enjoyed the suburban life that West Chester, largely farmland at the time, had to offer, and relished the safe community where their kids began to grow up.

A successful business and three kids later, Coffman found out she was pregnant with a fourth child in 2000. Blindsided, she and her husband struggled to see the reason for their surprise pregnancy. They had three kids, Taylor (now 25), Tanner (22), and Tucker (18), and hadn’t planned on growing their family any further.

After finally finding peace and excitement about their news, Coffman had a miscarriage. Heartbroken, she remembers feeling great guilt for her initial reaction and wondered why they lost their baby, especially after reconciling with the new expectation. Fast forward several years, and the family welcomed their fourth child, Trevor, whom they adopted from Russia.

“I really felt that God used [the miscarriage] to prepare our hearts for another child, because our hearts were closed,” Coffman recalls. “He used that to open us up to the idea of another child.”

During the adoption search process, Coffman knew immediately that Trevor belonged in their family. His physical features surprisingly resembled those of her own biological children, and his birthday was in July, the same month as Chris, Tanner and Tucker. After two years of going through the adoption process, Chris brought Trevor home from Russia. Coffman remembers how he was immediately welcomed by the other kids.

Coffman smiles as she reflects on happier times, and it’s easy to see the closeness among their family. After a tumultuous year, she still struggles with the “why” of Chris’ death, as do her kids.

“They miss him a lot. It has been really hard,” Coffman says, tearfully.

Her kids still visit the office and often have appointments to get chiropractic adjustments. Coffman believes it’s a source of comfort for them, given that their dad’s business has always been a part of their lives. It’s a familiar place within a year that feels so harshly unfamiliar.

“I never thought about this before, but maybe it was too much to lose [Chris] and the office at the same time,” Coffman says, as she reflects on the challenges of running the business herself.

She believes she chose to continue running the chiropractic business on her own because it’s what Chris would have wanted.

“A lot of people have said that he’s the reason that they’re living a healthful life. He was an inspiration to a lot of patients because he was so passionate about what he did,” Coffman remembers, fondly. “He just really, really cared about each and every one of them.”

Additionally, Coffman says she considered the fact that they had a staff of employees who relied on their income from the business. This sense of responsibility defines Coffman’s humble persona, always putting others before herself.

Shortly before Chris’ accident last year, Coffman had earned her real estate license, at Chris’ prodding, after years of putting it off to raise the kids. She now balances showing houses with running the company, supporting the kids and being a part-time speech therapist for preschoolers.

It’s easy to see the quiet strength that exudes out of this inspirational West Chester woman as she balances her daily obligations with supporting four kids and grieving the loss of her partner and friend. She wipes tears away as she smiles and says, “I want to keep doing this for my husband. We have been in business for more than 25 years, and we want to continue meeting the needs of all of our patients.”

As she continues waking up each day with the mission to “keep doing what needs to be done,” Coffman has a very simple message to share.

“I learned that your life can change in a heartbeat,” she says, quietly. “Keep your priorities straight. Just try to focus on what’s really important. Don’t take life for granted, that’s for sure.”