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Judge John P. Cooney

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Dr. John P. Cooney
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Judge John P. Cooney
Judge Leo M. Cooney
Noel Cooney Family
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The Drumlish Cooneys
Cooneys in Ireland
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John & Bridget Cooney
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A Historic Wedding in 1922
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The Cooneys in Rhode Island

This page is devoted to Judge John P. Cooney, and his wife Margaret Fitzgerald Cooney, and their children. Contact JoanTer@juno.com with additional input.

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Judge John P. Cooney

John Philip Cooney was a celebrated athlete at Hope High School in Providence and Holy Cross College. His High School baseball batting average record set in 1919 stood for over 50 years. He excelled academically as well, and was the Marshall (the highest honor) of his graduating class at Holy Cross in 1923. He served Holy Cross in many ways after graduation, including serving as President of its Board of Trustees, Chairman of a search Committe for a new basketball coach, and founder of the Holy Cross Varsity Club, an organization of former Holy Cross athletes to foster the ideal of "mens sana in corpore sano" for the athletic program. In his memory, the Cooney Award is given by the College each year to a graduating senior who excells academically as well as on the playing field. He attended Georgetown Law School in Washington, DC, and played professional football on the weekends for $100 a game for a Pennsylvania team under celebrated coach Herman Hickman, in a league that was a precurser of the National Football League.   John P. Cooney Jr. returned to Providence and became a prominent attorney and Judge and a leader of the community and the Bar Association. He married Margaret Fitzgerald in 1930 (also an attorney and a partner in the nationally known firm of her father, Fitzgerald and Higgins). The union produced 12 children, John P. III, Michael, Robert, Terence, James, Patrick, Margaret, Clara, Kathleen, Agnes, Anne and Edward J. John died in 1981, in his 79th year.

Margaret Fitzgerald Cooney

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Margaret was the daugher of nationally prominent attorney John J. Fitzgerald and Clara (Osfield) Fitzgerald. Through her own life she would become a trail-blazer for women's rights in the public sector. There were few conventions of female education in those days, and she sped through school and Trinity College in Washington DC, receiving her Baccalaureate at 19 years of age. After Boston University Law School, she became the first woman law graduate to practice law in Rhode Island. There came a time when her appellate practice in her father's law firm, Fitzgerald and Higgins, took her and a client's cause to the Rhode Island Supreme Court, and she was the first woman to argue a case in those chambers. The big question was whether to wear a hat before the Court, as in Church, or not, as was the men's custom. Margaret wore a hat, a precedent that was not followed, perhaps because the Court ruled unfavorably on her client's cause. She was also a gifted musician and could play any musical tune on the piano "by ear". When her future husband came courting her, he would come to her home with his violin and the two would make music under the approving eye of her mother, a music teacher. John and Margaret first met at the Democratic Convention of 1928 where they were both delegates. Margaret became a National Committeewoman of the Democratic Party and retained that office until her death. When they were married in 1930, Margaret gave up her active practice of law to raise her growing family, but she remained active in countless causes, including service on the Board of Trustees of Trinity College in Washington, DC. She and John had 12 children. Margaret died in 1984 in her 81st year.

JOHN AND MARGARET & FAMILY, 1948
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John and Margaret and their family in Matunuck Rhode Island, June, 1948.  From left to right, (front): Anne, Kathleen, Clara, Margaret Fitzgerald Cooney, Edward, James, Patrick, Agnes; (rear): Robert, Michael, John Philip Cooney,  John, Terence.  Not pictured is Margaret Mary.

1.2.1.3.1.1 JOHN PHILIP COONEY III (1931-1986) Son of John P. and Margaret (Fitzgerald) Cooney (1.2.1.3.1. Johnny excelled in sports as a youth and academics proved easy for him. He effortlessly completed the required curricula at Holy Cross College and Boston College Law School. On graduation, he entered the US Navy and served 3 years as a line officer. He returned to a law practice with his father in the firm of Higgins, Cavanaugh and Cooney. He had 2 children by his first wife, Barbara (Major), Catherine and John P. IV. That marriage ended in divorce and Barbara's subsequent husband adopted the children. They were thenceforth known as Catherine and John Hodnot.  John moved to Washington, DC, married Charlene and they had two daughters, Maria and Maureen. John's law practice focused on complex real estate matters, and he subsequently became a Vice President of Chicago Title Company. He later founded Metro Title Company, and merged it with Stewart Title Company (as Stewart Metro Company), one of the largest in the country. He became known in Washington as the attorney to go to for title insurance underwriting of complex urban development projects. John married a third time to Connie (Brennan) after an amicable divorce with Charlene. A life-long cigarette smoker, John died suddenly and unexpectedly in 1986 of lung cancer. He was 55.

1.2.1.3.1.2 MICHAEL COONEY (1932- ) Son of John P. and Margaret (Fitzgerald) Cooney (1.2.1.3.1). Mike was an exceptional athlete and a scholar in High School and College. In High School football he dominated the game as a lineman on both offense and defense. In Track and Field he rewrote the record books for the 16 lb. Hammer Throw event. His performance in this event was so extraordinary that high school coaches throughout the state searched their student populations for left handers, thinking that the fact that Mike was a lefty must have something to do with it. At Holy Cross College he was a consensus "All East" football player, made the All American list for football in Collier's Magazine, and was dominant in Inter-Collegiate Track Meets in the Hammer Throw. He graduated Cum Laude as well. Mike was subsequently inducted into the Holy Cross Athletic Hall of Fame. After graduation he quickly won an MBA degree from Boston College. He was soon immersed in Harold Geneen's corporate galaxy at ITT, and was CFO or CEO of several companies. After retiring from the business world, Mike became interested in Financial Control Systems of Water Utility Companies. He is now an international consultant on those issues and has advised programs in Egypt, Albania and Bosnia. Mike married his high school sweetheart Margaret (Webster), and they have five children, Ellen, Michael, Margaret, Kevin and Elizabeth, 13 grandchildren, and 1 great-grandchild. Mike and Peggy will be celebrating 50 years of marriage in 2003.

1.2.1.3.1.3 ROBERT F. COONEY (1933- ) Son of John P. and Margaret (Fitzgerald) Cooney (1.2.1.3.1). Bob graduated from Holy Cross College Magna Cum Laude in the most demanding academic program offered by the College, AB Greek, Pre-Med. He was also celebrated as "Unsung Hero of the Year" in Collier's Magazine Football All American listing for his indomitable and dominant play as an interior lineman on the Holy Cross football team. He received his Medical Degree from Tufts University. After Medical School, Dr. Cooney specialized in Obstetrics and had a successful and fulfilling Medical Practice on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He also became known in the state as an advocate for the "Right to Life" cause, among others. He married Marie (Skeehan) and they had 11 children, Mary, Robert, Timothy, Teresa, Kathleen, Daniel, Marie, Terence, Carol, John, and Anne, and numerous grandchildren. Bob and Marie will be celebrating 45 years of marriage in 2003.

1.2.1.3.1.4 TERENCE P. COONEY (1934- ) Son of John P. and Margaret (Fitzgerald) Cooney (1.2.1.3.1). Terry graduated from Holy Cross College and was immediately drafted into the Army as a Private. 20 years later he left the Army as a Lieutenant Colonel of Infantry after 2 tours of combat in Vietnam and tours of duty in Korea and Germany, among others. He went to law school on the GI Bill, and graduated from the George Washington University Law School, adding a JD Degree (with honor) to the MBA Degree he had earlier earned from the University. After 10 years in the general practice of law with the firm of Schott, Cooney and Findakly, Terry accepted a position with Legal Counsel for the Elderly, a public interest law firm in Washington DC, and he continues there today. He married Joanne (Bebel) and they have 2 children, Kathryn and Joseph and 1 grandchild. Terry and Joanne will be celebrating 32 years of marriage in 2002.

1.2.1.3.1.5 JAMES F. COONEY (1936- ) Son of John P. and Margaret (Fitzgerald) Cooney (1.2.1.3.1). An educator of the Deaf, Jim started off in this field when he found some extra time on his hands after graduating from Holy Cross College. He volunteered to assist the athletic coach of the elementary school of the Rhode Island School for the Deaf (RISD), which was located across the street from the Cooney house. In short order he became a celebrated coach of basketball and track and field events there, a teacher of the Deaf curriculum, and Athletic Director. He received a Master of Education in teaching the Deaf from Galludet University in Washington, DC, and served for many years as the highly respected Principal of the High School of RISD. Jim also became a leader and coach in the International Deaf Olympics movement. He retired in 1996 and is now the volunteer principal and teacher (with his wife Marilyn) at the fledgling School for the Deaf on the island of Fiji. He married Marilyn (Arnold), also a teacher of the Deaf, and they have 3 children, Brendan, Erin, and Ryan. Jim and Marilyn will celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary in 2002 in Fiji.

1.2.1.3.1.6 PATRICK J. COONEY (1938- ) Son of John P. and Margaret (Fitzgerald) Cooney (1.2.1.3.1). Pat has special musical gift, a facility with numbers, and an affinity for physics and languages. From his earliest days, he could sit at the piano and play any musical piece "by ear". He graduated from La Salle Academy and attended Providence College where the grades he attained  in Physics and Greek are still topics of discussion in those departments. But his lack of interest in the other courses led to his leaving PC after his freshman year.  He then attended the Rhode Island Radio and Electronics School (now RI School of Electronics)  and graduated with the highest grade ever recorded at the school, then or since. He served with honor as a Specialist in the Army Signal Corps in Vietnam. His company, the 107th Signal Company (Support) of the Rhode Island National Guard, was called to active duty in both the Berlin Crisis in 1961-1962, and for Vietnam in 1968-1969.  On his return stateside, he focused on electronics work in Providence and had a fulfilling career in that field. Pat is now semi-retired, and lives in Matunuck, Rhode Island.

1.2.1.3.1.7 MARGARET MARY COONEY (1939-1997) Daughter of John P. and Margaret (Fitzgerald) Cooney (1.2.1.3.1). Their first daughter, Margaret was born with severe learning disabilities. At the age of 3, the disabilities became so severe she was referred to a residency program of Rhode Island Social Services. She was visited frequently by her parents and family over the course of her life, but never recovered enough to leave the program. Margaret died in 1997 of natural causes. She was celebrated by the program staff as a very assertive and strong willed person, unusual traits for someone with her disabilities, (but typical of a Cooney!). In the words of the homilist at her Mass of Christian Burial, "Margaret is now with her loving parents in Heaven, where they know her without her disabilities for the first time."

1.2.1.3.1.8 CLARA OSFIELD COONEY (1940-2001) Daughter of John P. and Margaret (Fitzgerald) Cooney (1.2.1.3.1). Clara was a strikingly beautiful child with an alabaster complexion and golden-red hair. As a youth she showed a special talent for writing and also developed a devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Then, as a teenager, she was struck by the Gran Mal seizures of epilepsy. There was nothing in her genetic history to suggest such a disease - it came "out of the blue". But medications were able to control the seizures, and Clara completed her demanding program of studies at Elmhurst with distinction, and went on to Trinity College in Washington, DC. There, in her Sophomore year, she was stricken with the disease of Schizophrenia. Again, it was "out of the blue", there being no genetic history of the disease in the family. It was like being hit by lightening, and it happened twice! Although she had to take a year off, Clara persisted and completed her studies and graduated from Trinity. She was always an elegant, even courtly, lady, and took great pleasure in leading her sisters on a tour of Europe. But the twin diseases took their toll and Clara had to enter a residential program of the Rhode Island Social Services System. Clara died in 2001, and is remembered as a gracious presence who mentored and loved her sisters and admired and loved her brothers.

1.2.1.3.1.9 KATHLEEN (COONEY) PUCHALLA (1941- ) Daughter of John P. and Margaret (Fitzgerald) Cooney (1.2.1.3.1). After graduating from Trinity College in Washington, DC (where she was a member of the noted College singing group, the Trinity Belles), Kathleen went to work for John F. Kennedy's Peace Corps. She was the headquarters contact for a score of Peace Corps Volunteers in the field during the first years of the program, and handled any "stateside problem" they might have with consideration and dispatch. She met and married her husband Edward Puchalla, who worked in Washington for another government agency (the name of which cannot be disclosed). Ed has retired now and they live in Snug Harbor, Rhode Island, where Ed looks after his 33 foot sailboat and Kathleen runs the Religious Education Program at St. Francis Church in nearby Wakefield, RI. Kath and Ed have 4 children, Margaret, Edward, Christopher and Dominic, and 3 grandchildren. They will celebrate 36 years of marriage in 2002.

1.2.1.3.1.10  AGNES (COONEY) CHRETIEN  (1944- )  Daughter of John P. and Margaret (Fitzgerald) Cooney (1.2.1.3.1).  Agnes pursued post-secondary studies at University College in Dublin, Ireland, completed an Associate's Degree at Marymount College in Arlington, Virginia, and received her Baccalaureate from  Rhode Island College.  She was drawn to Social Welfare work and accepted a position with the Rhode Island Department of Human Services.  She continues with a demanding caseload as Social Worker in the Agency office in Providence.  She is also very active in the Social Concerns Committee at her parish church, focusing on issues of hunger and homelessness.  Agnes married Ronald Chretien, a fellow Social Worker and an attorney.  He died in January 1996.  They have one child, their daughter Kathleen Chretien.

1.2.1.3.1.11  ANNE COONEY  (1945- )  Daughter of John P. and Margaret (Fitzgerald) Cooney (1.2.1.3.1).  Their youngest daughter, Anne did post-secondary studies at the Chamberlain School of Design in Boston where she earned her Certificate in Retail Management, and completed her Bachelor Degree in General Studies at the University of Rhode Island.  Like her sister Agnes and her aunt Kate before her, Anne became was drawn to Social Work, and is a Social Caseworker with the Rhode Island Department of Human Services , and has served clients from several offices in Rhode Island including Pawtucket, Westerly, Warwick, Newport and North Kingston.  She is presently working with families and the "welfare to work" program.  Annie is also active with the Social Justice issues, youth activities and the Lector program at St. Francis Church, Wakefield, RI.

1.2.1.3.1.12 EDWARD J. COONEY (1947- ) Son of John P. and Margaret (Fitzgerald) Cooney (1.2.1.3.1). Eddie was a standout basketball player at La Salle Academy and played on the freshman squad at Holy Cross College when Holy Cross was a national power in the sport. He also excelled in baseball at both schools.  After graduation from Holy Cross with academic distinction, he was recruited by one of the top 5 accounting firms in the country. After a few years in the accounting trenches, he moved into the corporate executive suite and has been CFO of 2 companies with a global presence in manufacturing and sales. He is now Treasurer of Nortek Incorporated, an international building materials manufacturing conglomerate headquartered in Rhode Island. He continues to be active in the sports world, and his work as a leader of a group of Americans and Irish bringing baseball to Ireland has had success, and takes him regularly to Dublin for consultations. He was the head coach of the Ireland National Baseball Team in Sweden in the summer of 2002.   Ed married Mary (O'Reilly) and they have 3 children, Meghan, Edward and Neil. Eddie and Mary will be married 26 years in 2002.