Coffee, Wendell 1998-09-15

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Wendell Coffee discusses his life as an attorney and involvement with getting school prayer removed from the Lubbock Independent School District.

General Interview Information

Interviewee Name: Wendell Coffee

Additional Parties Recorded:

Date: September 15, 1998

Location: Lubbock, Texas

Interviewer: Gene B. Preuss

Length: 1 hour, 30 minutes


Tape 1, Side 1: Coffee, Wendell, Born: Loraine, Texas (Mitchell County), March 10, 1925, Parents: Charlie Childress Coffee, cotton gin owner, Edith Wilson Bird Coffee, Active in the Methodist Church Women's group, National Board member (Methodist Church) for missionaries duties and travels, Father (again), Education, Career choices, Farmer, engineer, or go back to school, World War II, Navy, U. S. S. Boston, 2nd class petty officer, Radio technician, 1944 - drafted, Wendell - colorblind, Education (again), One and two room school house, A married couple taught: wife taught 1-5 and husband taught 6-11, Opinions, Graduated from Tahoka, Texas, in 1942, School had only grades 1-11, Texas Tech University: 1942-1944, Majored in engineering, Brother: ROTC, 3 years older, Killed in Germany during World War II, Tokyo Bay, 1945, There when the treaty was signed, Description of communication, Navy (again), University of Texas: law school, U. S. Patent office, Description, Job duties, Lubbock, Texas, The only patent lawyer between Dallas and Denver, Began business as a patent attorney, Also looked after farm, Taught a mathematics course at Texas Tech University

Tape 1, Side 2: Memory - learning names, Ego, Had to overcome, Attorneys, Description, Law Practice, Copy and patent rights only, Lawyers and their clients, Hobbies, Sailing/Boating, Interested early in life, Other cities he worked in, Items he helped patent, Farm machinery, Big 12 Grain Cart, Road construction items (top stakes), Process of obtaining a patent, Description, Search for other items already invented, Write its' description, Send to patent office, Process takes about 2 years, Most difficult of all legal documents, Texas Bar Association, U. S. Patent office requirements to practice, Civil Right movement, Social concerns commission, chairman, Description and duties, Methodist church, Lubbock Busing situation, Methodist church (again), Lawsuit: Lubbock Independent School District vs. school prayer, Griffin, Tom, LISD had school prayers every morning and also had evangelical type people to speak at assemblies

Tape 2, Side 1: Lawsuit (continued), 1/3 of Lubbock felt it was okay to have school prayers, Griffin, Tom (again), Said a student can pray when they wish as long as it doesn't bother others Criticism of Wendell being involved, Civil Liberties Union, Paid some legal costs, One reason he divorced his first wife, Late 1970s - early 1980s, High school newspaper columnist, Changes in the legal profession, Technology - made paperwork easier, Rules in the patent office have changed, Telephones (more), Paperwork (more), Fees: filing, issue, maintenance (increased), Money goes to the general treasury, Filing a claim, Chairman of the Texas State Bar Patent, Trademark, and Copy Right Section, 1972-1973, Responsibilities, Not a people person, Future of the legal profession, Becoming more commercial, Firms becoming nationwide, Small towns, Fair amount of independent lawyers, Has to do with the population, Self-employed people (lack of), Descriptions, Businesses

Tape 2, Side 2: Blank

Range Dates: 1925-1998

Bulk Dates: 1970s-circa 1980s

Access Information

Original Recording Format:

Recording Format Notes:


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