Pastors' Memoirs

William Emory Cooley, 1913-2002

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The Rev. William Emory Cooley was born on November 13, 1913, in Amherst, Va. His childhood was spent in Strasburg, Va., from the age of four. He entered the Methodist ministry from Strasburg Methodist Church. Graduated from Emory & Henry College and the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., in 1939. He was appointed by the Virginia Conference of the Methodist Church to Culpeper in 1930 and in 1940 to the Albemarle Charge (consisted of four churches).

At the outbreak of World War II in March 1942 he was appointed to the Chaplaincy as 1st Lieutenant in the Army with the 126th Regiment of the 32nd Infantry Division. He served in the Pacific Theater until November 30, 1946, when he was discharged as a Lt. Colonel. During the war, he was awarded the Bronze Star medal for "meritorious service in the Philippines."

He returned to the Virginia Conference of the Methodist Church in 1946 and was appointed to the Amherst Charge. He returned to active duty in the Air Force at the request of the Methodist Commission on Chaplains when the Korean War began in October of 1950. He was released from active duty in 1958 and returned to the Virginia Methodist Conference.

In 1958, he was appointed to build Aldersgate Methodist Church in Norfolk, Va., and was there until 1960. In 1960, he was appointed to Ginter Park Methodist Church in Richmond, Va., where he served until 1968. He was appointed to Crewe United Methodist Church in 1968 and served there until 1972 when he was appointed to Laurel Hill United Methodist Church in Varina, Henrico County, Virginia, where he served until his retirement in June 1977 after 40 years of service, 12 of which were spent as Chaplain with the Army and Air Force.

He retired to Chesapeake, Va., in 1977 and joined Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Chesapeake. He moved to Cornwall Manor in Cornwall, Pennsylvania, in June 1990 and was there until his death on May 8, 2002. He is survived by his wife, Madelle Fullen Cooley, whom he married on October 31, 1939, of Cornwall, Pa. A son, Dr. William Emory Cooley, Jr. of Bloomington, Illinois; a daughter, Caroline Cooley Halstead of Chesapeake, Va.; a daughter, Susan Rebecca Cooley of Richmond, Va.; a brother, C. Douglas Cooley of Strasburg, Va.; four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Burial was at Riverview Cemetery in Strasburg, Virginia.

— Becky Cooley



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