Murphy Funeral Homes

1102 West Broad Street, Falls Church, VA


Ellen P. Coakley

February 9, 1929July 8, 2019

Entrepreneur / Philanthropist

Ellen P. Coakley (90) of Arlington, Va., passed away peacefully and surrounded by family on Monday, July 8, 2019.

Ellen was the loving wife of Cornelius J. Coakley, who predeceased her. She is survived by her daughter, Maria Coakley David, and son-in-law James David; sons Cornelius James (Jim), Liam and Michael Coakley; and daughters-in-law Caroline and Beth Coakley. She is also predeceased by her son John Kevin Coakley. Ellen had eleven grandchildren: Elizabeth Kristin Burch and her husband Stephen; Shannon David Hampton and her husband Jacob; Cornelius James (CJ) David, Ellen Michelle David, Mary Catherine Coakley, Anne Marie Coakley, Nora Clare Coakley, Liam Coakley, Cornelius Joseph (Neil) Coakley, Lauren Coakley, and Evelyn Coakley. Ellen also had two great grandchildren, Collin and Bennett Burch, with two additional expected later this summer.

Ellen was born in County Kerry, Ireland and immigrated to the United States in 1947. She and her husband, who married in 1956, co-founded the C. J. Coakley Co., Inc. in 1962, a construction company specializing in interiors that is still operating today, under the leadership of their children. In 1977 she co-founded a second construction company Dominion Applicators, Inc. where she served as president until 1992.

A passionate philanthropist and advocate for education, Ellen founded the Seton Centers, Inc. in 1975. Through its resources and support, the Seton Centers was a program that helped children with learning disabilities thrive in Catholic schools in various locations throughout the Washington D.C. area. As a result of her dedication to this program, thousands of children were able to graduate high school and college. The mission of the Seton Centers was taken over by the Catholic Diocese of Arlington in 2004.

Ellen also co-founded the Ellen P. & Cornelius J. Coakley Family Foundation in 1997 and was the president until her death. The foundation is dedicated to carrying on Ellen and Cornelius’ passion and legacy for causes such as education, Catholic Charities and cancer research and cures.

Services of Visitation will be held on Thursday, July 11 at the Murphy Funeral Home at 1102 West Broad Street, Falls Church, VA 22046 from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. The Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Friday, July 12 at St. Agnes Catholic Church at 1910 N. Randolph Street, Arlington, VA 22207 at 10:30 a.m. Internment will be held at the Columbia Gardens Cemetery at 3411 Arlington Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to:


  • Celebration of Life Visitation Thursday, July 11, 2019
  • Celebration of Life Visitation Thursday, July 11, 2019
  • Mass of Christian Burial Friday, July 12, 2019
  • Interment Friday, July 12, 2019


Ellen P. Coakley

have a memory or condolence to add?

Penny Cayey

July 16, 2019

So sorry to learn of Mrs. Coakley's passing. Know our thoughts are with the family. I admired her for so many years, her insight, knowledge, wisdom and kindness will be remembered by many and really appreciated by a select few.

Caroline Blackman

July 12, 2019

Please accept my heartfelt condolences.
To a woman full of life and love❤️.
Warm regards,

julie hughey

July 11, 2019

To the Sweet Coakley Family,

Your Ellen was a gift to all who knew her and many, many people who did not. She touched thousands of lives through her kindness and commitment to helping her local community and far beyond. Ellen was also a lot of fun and I will miss her good cheer! Her friendship was a treasure and I am grateful for it.


Marie Powell

July 11, 2019

Dear members of Ellen's family,

I am so sorry to learn of Ellen's death, especially since we have grandchildren visiting and I will not be able to attend the wake or the funeral.

It was a privilege and a joy to know and work with Ellen over so many years. When she and Connie began the Seton Centers at St. Agnes, this began serious efforts to serve students with disabilities in Catholic schools in northern Virginia. This legacy has been a most significant contribution to so many students, families and school communities. What a wonderful example of turning grief, because of John's death, into something positive for many.

Although I have not seen Ellen for several years, her vibrant personality and dedication will be a constant memory for me. May the Lord grant her the eternal rest she so much deserves.

J Pat Herlihy

July 10, 2019

Ellen Coakley, a true treasure. Since I can remember, she always made me, and so many others, feel special. Even though it was often years between seeing her, she never seemed to change. The same twinkle in the eye and gorgeous smile that radiated joy, light and just the hint of mischief. I always thought of her as that magical Irish person, ...made me proud of who we could be. We will miss her greatly, but her spirit, ...it will be with us always.

Mary Beth O'Sullivan

July 10, 2019

Dearest Ellen, you were one in a million and will never be forgotten.
Thinking of you all at this difficult time Maria, Jim, Michael & Liam and your extended families who she treasured dearly.
Rest in Peace Ellen and I hope you have a big party in heaven with my Nana Betty and the rest of the family.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam.
Love your Kerry Girl Mary Beth O'Sullivan. Kenmare, Co Kerry, Ireland.

Dianne Schneider

July 9, 2019

Dear kids, your mom was a super special lady! She made a great impact on me and my family. We all loved her dearly and will miss her bright spirit and joyful personality. Love and prayers to each of you and your families. Fondly, Diane Schneider and family

Jim Carmody

July 8, 2019

Aunt Ellen, May You Rest In Peace. My condolences to all your family. children nieces and nephews. You were a wonderful person and loved by all who knew you. Love You Jim