Elizabeth Louise “Betty” Cooney, 84, died at home in Marion, MA surrounded by the love of family and friends on July 9, 2018. She was born to the late John and Wilhelmena Donlan on June 13, 1934. Betty’s generosity of spirit was powerfully felt by the people and communities she touched. She had a genius for friendship and an incandescent smile that lit up the journey of her well-lived life.
Betty grew up in Framingham and graduated from Lesley University. In 1958 she married blue-eyed Ed Cooney, the love of her life and partner in countless adventures for 58 years. Betty and Ed knew they had found a very special place when they moved to Marion in 1968. With their four children in tow, they explored every corner of Buzzards Bay with whatever sailboat Ed brought home that year until the WHITE WHALE, a 42-foot wooden Grand Banks, joined the family.
In 1973, sitting at Silvershell Beach, Betty informed her friends that she was “just going to see about a teaching job in Mattapoisett”. It was a visit that defined her life as much as anything else and two generations of Center School first-graders were wrapped in her warmth, laughter and teaching guidance for 28 years.
She loved her students and all her colleagues, including fellow teachers, administrators, cafeteria and janitorial staff. At the end of each summer, she produced epicly welcoming bulletin boards designed to calm and delight anxious kids, new to school. In the winter, students learned to read while sipping hot chocolate. Her family often wondered where all the mugs had gone. Betty gave more than just her heart to teaching and she earned a Masters in Education from Lesley when she was 61.
Betty, also known as “Nana”, was the world’s greatest grandmother to five grandchildren she adored. Hallmark would blush at her enthusiasm for holidays and grandchildren would receive cards and presents on Flag Day. Betty never said “no” to a grandchild’s request that would result in soap suds covering her kitchen floor or a project that might leave a glitter and glue legacy for months.
Betty was an active volunteer, often powerfully, in the background, in many civic organizations including the Marion Garden Club, Sippican School, Community Nurse Home Care of Fairhaven, Alma Del Mar Charter School, The Max Warburg Courage Curriculum, Beverly Yacht Club, No Dow Chow, Buzzards Bay Musicfest and Marion-Bermuda Race. It gave her great joy to sing with the Sippican Choral Society for many years.
All of these activities accomplished good for others and provided a delivery system for constant engagement and shared laughter with friends she loved. Her empathetic ear, actress-like facial expressions, sense of humor and boundless generosity and kindness combined to create the ideal friend. It was her gift and she gave it away with joy. Those same qualities created a special and enduring bond with her siblings.
She was predeceased by her husband, Ed. She is survived by her four children, Beth Cooney and her husband Rob Sargent and their children Michaela and Rory, Ted Cooney and his wife Claire and their daughter Elle, Dan Cooney and his wife Kate and their children Henry and Owen and Sarah Garabedian and her husband Mike; and her three siblings Jack, Kathy and Carol and many great nieces and nephews.
A celebration of her life will be held on Monday, August 20 at 10 am at Tabor Academy’s Wickenden Chapel in Marion, MA.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent in Betty’s memory to (the amazing) Community Nurse Home Care at 62 Center Street, PO Box 751, Fairhaven, 02719. www.communitynurse.com. Arrangements are with Saunders-Dwyer Mattapoisett Home for Funerals, 50 County Rd. Route 6, Mattapoisett. For online guestbook, please visit www.saundersdwyer.com