In 2014, the Serpentine Society learned of a bequest from Robert M. Coggin, College of Arts & Sciences ’76, who co-founded the Gay Student Union in 1972 and founded the Suburban Maryland Lesbian and Gay Alliance in Montgomery County in 1982. This gift will endow the Wavelength Scholarship Fund.
Obituary of Robert Mitchell Coggin
Robert Mitchell Coggin of Silver Spring, Maryland passed away on January 19, 2014 of complications from Myotonic Muscular Dystrophy. He was 62. He was born on January 31, 1951 in Danville, Virginia to Belva Mitchell Coggin and Henry Ernest Coggin. He graduated from the University of Virginia, Charlottesville in 1976 with a Bachelor of Arts degree and worked for many years for the National Institutes of Health as an administrative assistant before he had to retire in 1999 due to his medical condition.
During his time at NIH, Robert received many awards for his outstanding performance. Despite the fact that he had a chronic and degenerative illness, Robert’s outlook on life was always positive. He enjoyed movies, theater, dinners out with friends, and he was a pioneering crusader in the fight for gay rights in the Mid-Atlantic area.
He was a co-founder of the first gay student group, the Gay Student Union, at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville in 1972. He was also the founder of the Suburban Maryland Lesbian and Gay Alliance in Montgomery County in 1982. He was a leader in the fight to have Montgomery County, Maryland pass a non-discrimination law that included gays and lesbians in 1984. The bill was passed by the Montgomery County Human Relations Commission after much opposition and a lawsuit from conservative groups in the County.
Over the years, Robert continued to be active with numerous gay and lesbian rights groups in their efforts to move forward on civil rights legislation. He was predeceased by his parents and his brother, William Henry Coggin.
Donations in Robert’s memory can be made to the University of Virginia Fund. People wishing to donate should note “Robert Coggin” on the reader line, bottom left hand corner of the check. The address is University of Virginia Fund, 211 Emmet Street South, Charlottesville, VA 22904.
His obituary in the Washington Blade on January 29, 2014 is here.