Asked for suggestions on how people should write their own obituaries, Nadine Kofman, who died Saturday, advised that "an obit should be treated like a news story, with an interesting characteristic or brief life synopsis as the lead."
In Nadine's case, the lead would be crowded with many interesting facts that could be summarized in one sentence: "Nadine is the memory of our community." Over the decades in a writing career that began in 1968, in some forum or fashion, Nadine earnestly researched and recreated the history of Centre County, with a major focus on the changing landscape of State College, where she grew up, went to high school, and eventually lived as an adult for most of her life.
Nadine was born in Erie on December 14, 1943, the daughter of Leah (Katz) and Benjamin Kofman, who soon moved to Bellefonte and then State College. She grew up in a house in the 700 block of South Allen Street. She graduated from State High in 1961 and Penn State University in 1965. After a short stint working in Pittsburgh, she returned to Happy Valley and joined the newsroom of the Pennsylvania Mirror. She eventually moved over to the Centre Daily Times where she met her future husband, William L. Welch Jr., whom she married in 1975. He died in 2009.
It was at the Times where she caught the history bug when she began writing a column and doing other historical research. She continued her contributions to the community's collective memory through columns for Town & Gown, membership on the State College Centennial Commission and the board of The State Theatre, among others. She once quipped that The State Theatre, where she ushered for opera simulcasts, was her second home.
Her crowning historical achievement was researching and writing the text for historic plaques that were placed on old State College buildings. To do that, Nadine spent hours in the basement of the Centre County Library and Historical Society in Bellefonte. She became known as the "plaque editor" and in 2017 received the Jacqueline J. Melander Award from the Centre County Historical Society. It was Jackie who proclaimed Nadine the memory of our community.
Nadine wrote about stores she had frequented as a youngster that were going out of business when she was an adult. "We all cling to places where we used to spend time," she once wrote.
In her later years she moved to The Oaks in Pleasant Gap and that opened a new experience for her—using CATA services. She wrote a column about transportation in Centre County and said of CATARIDE: "Thousands of resident trips are made on them each week. For some of us, these complete a circle in our lives."
Nadine's surviving circle includes her daughter Justine Mastin and husband Elijah. When writing about Justine, Nadine often referred to her as "the kid." Also surviving is a brother, Michael, and stepdaughters Jennifer Theiss and her husband Mark, and Jessica Welch and her former partner Dana Guyer, and granddaughters Clarissa and Linden Theiss.
A public service will be held at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, April 7 at Koch Funeral Home, 2401 S. Atherton St., State College, followed by a private graveside service. A public celebration of her life will be held at The State Theatre, 130 W College Ave, State College, on Tuesday, April 9, with cocktail hour from 5:30-6:30 p.m. and a movie screening of Nadine's choice at 7 p.m.
Memorial contributions can be sent to The State Theatre, 130 W College Ave, State College, PA 16801, or Discovery Space of Central Pennsylvania, 1224 N Atherton St, State College, PA 16803.—R Thomas Berner
Arrangements are under the care of Koch Funeral Home, State College. Online condolences and signing of the guest book may be entered at www.kochfuneralhome.com.