December 28,1923—May 20, 2016
Jim was born with a incredible seat in the Grandstands and with a Baseball glove in the palm of his hand. Both Jim”s paternal Grandfather and his Father and Uncle, played major league baseball. Grandfather Jim Cooney, played major league baseball as a shortstop in 1890 for the Chicago Colts. In the famous poem by Ernest Thayer, “Casey at the Bat”, it is Jim’s grandfather Cooney, that dies at first base.
Jim’s Dad, nicknamed “Scoops,” was an American League shortstop and broke into baseball in 1917. That was the year that Babe Ruth was the pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. Jim’s Dad played for six different teams and he entered the record books as the sixth player in the modern era to turn an unassisted triple play. He is listed in the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown for this event.
Jim’s childhood was filled with sports and games and fun. Jim felt his Dad was his hero and he was always willing to play ball with all the children in the neighborhood. Jim excelled in school and was double promoted in the early grades. He graduated from high school when he was 17 and started College at University of Rhode Island in 1941.
When World War II, broke out, Jim, one of The Greatest Generation, left school and joined the United States Navy. He wanted to be a pilot, but the “Stalls and Spins” of maneuvers left him having vertigo. Jim was assigned to lighter than air “Blimps” and was a pilot of these huge ships. For three years Jim and his crew patrolled the East Coast of the USA and was involved in anti-submarine warfare, escorting the USN up to Halifax, Nova Scotia.
When the war in Europe ended, Jim was re-assigned to the Pacific. He was stationed in Guam and was a Navigator with the naval air service. His duties in the South Pacific were to evacuate the wounded and bring supplies to the Military. In 1945, the navigation was mostly done by celestial navigation. He flew to South America, Japan, China and Australia, all by plotting the stars.
In 1945 Jim was released honorably from the USN and returned to Rhode Island. He was given the opportunity to go back to school and he returned to Brown University. He opted to live at home with his parents and not in the dorms.
Jim loved sports and was the Captain of the Brown basketball team while at Brown University. Jim also played baseball and remembers a game he played with George Bush, Sr. while George was at Yale. Jim states proudly, the Brown team beat Yale. He loved to win a game.
Jim graduated with a degree in Chemistry in 1949 from Brown, and in that year he married his wife, Patricia Kennedy. They were married for 51 years and had three children. Jim took many movies of the adventures he had with his children. The family loved to travel and went on frequent vacations to see family and do cross-country drives to State Parks.
In 1972 Jim came to Greenville as the Marketing Manager for Morton Chemical. He traveled extensively all over the world. Pat and Jim enjoyed their new life in the south. It was that year that they joined the UU Fellowship and Jim was president.
They enjoyed playing tennis and bridge and traveling. Jim was an avid volunteer for Meals on Wheels and he won the State Doubles Championship in tennis in 1988.
Jim’s wife Pat died in 2000 and in her memory, Pat’s Pantry was organized to help feed the homeless in Greenville.
One day, in the spring of 2001, Jim called me and asked me to go to the Movies. I was thrilled that he reached out to me as we have been friends since I joined the UU Fellowship in 1981. We were very comfortable with one another because we were old and good friends.
We started seeing each other and then Jim asked me to help him Deliver Meals on Wheels. That led to us going to lunch and then our adventures began. We began going to the Senior Action Dances, and Jim’s friends joined us and then my sister Grace and her hubby. Then we decided to travel.
Jim had been going to Florida for a few weeks in the winter with his wife Pat. After Pat passed away, Jim asked me if I would like to go to Hutchinson Island and join him and his brother and his wife for a week. That started a new tradition of renting our own place and we had a wonderful time each winter playing bridge and tennis and meeting new friends and entertaining family. We rented the same place for ten years of fun and excitement.
One day Jim said that he did not like the idea that we were not married. He said, “we go to visit all your family and my family and I love you and want to be married – Let’s make it legal.” And so, we “tied the knot” and we have enjoyed 15 years of companionship and friendship and love. I am so happy that we shared these wonderful years together.
In 2013, we left for Florida in November to spend the winter. In January of 2014, my condo at Riverbend had a devastating fire and we remained in Florida for two years while my unit was re-built and did not return to Greenville until August of 2015.
It was a very nice life, living on the ocean and we thoroughly enjoyed every day of beautiful sunrises and sunsets. What a wonderful time we have had enjoying each other and I am so glad he called and invited me to the Movies – my life with Jim was better than the movies and I am so thankful for having him in my life.
Jim was a constant coach and encourager who often said “Hustle and keep your chin up.”
Surviving are his wife Mary (Foley) Cooney, daughter Pamela Anderson, of Hull, Ma., James Stanton Cooney of Collegeville, Pa., Kimball Cooney, Greenville, SC, brother Robert Cooney, of Magog, Que,Ca, and seven grandchildren.
Also surviving are Mary’s seven children, twenty grandchildren, and six great grandchildren.
Jim was born in Providence, Rhode Island and died in Greenville, SC at McCall Hospice House.
January 21 , 2016
written by Mary Foley Cooney