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Coffman’s the marrying kind

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She’s officiated over almost 500 nuptials

By Cindy Simpson

Una Coffman takes great pride in her long stint as Roane County Commissioner, the lone female voice in a roomful of men for 12 of those 16 years.
One of the numerous duties that inspires her most of all — and as a former commissioner she can perform — is marriage ceremonies.
“I didn’t even know we could do weddings,” she admitted. “I’ve met some really fascinating people, interesting people.
“It has been a real joy to me.”

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She continues to perform wedding ceremonies, and the Roane County Clerk’s office often recommends her to would-be brides and grooms who show up at the office to pick up marriage licenses.
Coffman’s proven to be a popular officiant. She’s officiated at 488 weddings since 1990.
“I want them to get married, and I want it to be a meaningful service to them,” she said. “I think it is, because they tell other people about me.”
Some years, she does very few. Others see weddings aplenty.
“In 1995, I tell you, I can’t believe I really did a whole lot of weddings,” she said. “I think I did about 21.”
“I have done (the wedding of) a couple 85 and 87, and their spouses had died,” she continued. “They had gotten to dating, and it was wonderful. I was so happy for them.”
Though she mostly officiates at the Roane County Courthouse, Coffman’s presided over ceremonies at Whitestone Inn, Harriman Riverfront Park gazebo and Kingston City Park. Another favorite site is the old Roane County Courthouse gazebo.
She traditionally embraces the happy couple afterward, showing her appreciation for allowing her to share in their special day.
In ceremonies she performs, Coffman points out that she’s not clergy, and the service is civil. But she speaks of the New Testament’s “love chapter,” 1 Corinthians 13.
She advises couples to take care to appreciate those verses.
“If you listen carefully, I guarantee you it will help you with this marriage,” Coffman said at the June 14 nuptials of Holly Parker and Thomas Cook.
Holding hands tightly throughout the ceremony, the two listened intently to her words in their exchanging of vows.
Coffman said the weddings fill a void created by leaving the County Commission, an activity she enjoyed immensely.
She wants more women to be involved in county government.
“I felt I had an opportunity to show women that we need to get involved in county government as commissioners,” she said.