‘Mother Theresa of New Haven’ leaves loving legacy

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NEW HAVEN – Elsie Cofield spent a good portion of her long life advocating for those suffering from AIDS in the black community and earning her the nickname of the “Mother Theresa of New Haven.”

She died peacefully in her sleep Thursday at 12:15 a.m. just a week after she celebrated her 92nd birthday, according to a statement released by The Veronica Douglas Media Agency.

Elsie Cofield

Elsie Cofield

The former teacher in the New Haven public school system was described as a pioneering community leader. The 92-year-old was the wife of the late Dr. Curtis Cofield, Senior Pastor of the Immanuel Baptist Church in New Haven. The Cofields were the founders of AIDS Interfaith Network in the Elm City, which started in the basement of the church.

Cofield was describing as making a difference in the lives of many in New Haven, who honored her by naming a street after her.

“Cofield not only talked about the virus, she lobbied from the capitol to DC and even to Africa. She also gave those living with the virus a warm meal and a safe space every day at Aids Interfaith Network,” said Veronica Douglas-Givan in the statement. “Plus, a hug when no one wanted to touch someone living with AIDS or HIV.”

Funeral arrangements have not yet been finalized.