Roy Craig Cahoon; Expert in Coinage at U.S. Mint

By Joe Holley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Roy Craig Cahoon, 85, a Falls Church resident who died Nov. 28 of cancer of the pancreas at Capital Hospice in Arlington, devoted much of his professional life to change, of the nickel and dime variety.

As assistant director of the U.S. Mint for public services and executive director of the Joint Commission on the Coinage, Mr. Cahoon was knowledgeable about coin distribution in the United States. He was able to forecast how many coins would be needed and where. He knew how long coins last and was involved in the 1965 decision to issue "sandwich" coins -- dimes, quarters, half-dollars and dollar pieces that contain a copper core "sandwiched" between nickel cladding.

As a consultant in later years on coinage, currency and minting matters, he worked closely with the National Automatic Merchandising Association and similar groups on issues involving vending machines, cash registers, parking meters and other coin-operated devices.

He also worked with numismatic associations and with such private, for-profit minting operations as the Franklin Mint. He consulted with foreign governments on materials, distribution and other coinage concerns.

Mr. Cahoon was born in Swanquarter, N.C., and graduated from National Business College in Charlotte in the late 1930s. He also took courses at American University.

He worked for the U.S. Agricultural Adjustment Administration before being drafted into the Army Air Forces in 1942. He served in the European theater in England and France. After his discharge in 1946, he moved to the Arlington-Falls Church area.

He held administrative posts with the Department of Agriculture from 1946 to 1949 before joining the Department of the Treasury. For 18 years, he served as the public information officer on the staffs of five Treasury secretaries.

In 1967, he joined the Mint, where he was the primary spokesman for the director. He acted as liaison with Federal Reserve banks, congressional and executive offices, foreign governments, the press and numismatic organizations.

In 1974, in his capacity as assistant director of the Mint, he saw the gold in Fort Knox, Ky., when members of the media and some members of Congress were invited to verify its presence. He retired in 1975.

During his government service, Mr. Cahoon received the Treasury Department's Outstanding Leadership Award and the secretary of the treasury's Meritorious Service Award with Silver Medal. When he retired, he received the Albert Gallatin Award for "long and distinguished service" in the department.

In 1969, he was named the Society for Philatelics and Numismatics' man of the year.

Mr. Cahoon enjoyed traveling in the United States and abroad and spent summers on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. He had been a member of Culmore United Methodist Church in Falls Church for 51 years.

Survivors include his wife of 59 years, Anna Marie Cahoon of Falls Church; two sons, J. Craig Cahoon of the District and Christopher B. Cahoon of Virginia Beach; a brother; and two granddaughters.

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