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Legacy of Charley Coe Continues to Impact Burkburnett

If you drive through Burkburnett you may notice a new historical marker placed at the Chamber of Commerce building.
If you drive through Burkburnett you may notice a new historical marker placed at the chamber of commerce building.

Almost 100 years after his death, Burk unveiled a Texas Historical Commission Marker Friday remembering the day Charley Lee Coe went into a burning home to help save the children trapped inside.

He was able to save a three year old boy, but as he ran back inside to help one child who remained inside he was killed.

Charley Coe's great granddaughter who has grown up with stories of the man she never met, but who is remembered as her families hero.

But the story wasn't just passed down through her family, Burkburnett historical volunteers also persevered the story of Charley Coe's life, so they can paint a picture of the man they say is a true American hero.

“Charley Coe was thirty years old, he had three young daughters, without thinking of himself, he saved a child from a burning home and he went back into that burning home to attempt to save a second and gave his life in that effort,” says Wichita County Historic Commission Volunteer Becky Trammell.

It's a story that no longer has to be passed down by word of mouth it's forever engraved by this historical marker in Burkburnett., and before the marker was in place, Coe was remembered with a prestigious award.

“In 1924 they gave away their last gold medal which was the 14th gold medal given by the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission and it was given to Charley Coe, a driller who lived here in Burkburnett during Boomtown times,” says Trammell.

“It's not given to our first responders who are heroes everyday, it's given to just the average person who goes above and beyond what is required for us,” says Trammell.

A medal his family has kept close to them at all times.

“He was just defiantly my grandmother's hero and always she took the medal everywhere and told the story everywhere she went, whether it was to a convenience store, it just didn't matter she always told the story,” says Coe's great granddaughter Terri Barner.

And the difference Coe made in Burkburnett., did not end the day he died, his family was able to pass on his legacy through their own acts of kindness, after Burk rallied behind them and started a fund to help them get by, but after they were presented with what was raised.

“The mother took the money and took it over to Mrs. Hahn, the lady who had lost her baby and her home and that sort of thing, she gave Mrs. Hahn the money and said here you will need this worst than I do,” says Richard Vallon with the Burk Chamber of Commerce.

It's that spirit Vallon says he hopes lives on through the story of Charley Coe, as an example to the younger generations of Burk, as a reminder of their strong past and even stronger future.

“That's the type of people in my opinion that settled Burkburnett Texas and that's the type of people that are still here, they are here to help each other,” says Vallon.

Next Saturday another historical marker will go up in Texoma, The Buffalo Soldier Felix Lindsey will be honored at ten a.m. At Riverside Cemetery in Wichita Falls.
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