The Rev. C. Douglas Cooney, 75, Methodist pastor, church official

February 18, 2003|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

The Rev. C. Douglas Cooney, a retired United Methodist pastor and church official, died of cancer Friday at Charlestown Retirement Community, where he had lived for the past six years. He was 75 and formerly resided in Aberdeen and Bel Air.

Born in Lansdowne, where he was raised on Elizabeth Avenue, Mr. Cooney was a 1945 graduate of Catonsville High School. During World War II, he served in the Army in France.

He earned a bachelor's degree in history at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania and a master's degree in divinity from what was then Westminster Theological Seminary in Carroll County. He later sat on the seminary's board of governors and was its business manager and treasurer.

He was a deacon and was ordained as an elder in 1953 in the Baltimore-Washington United Methodist Conference. Mr. Cooney was initially assigned to what at the time were two small suburban churches, St. John's in Lutherville and Timonium United Methodist. He preached a sermon at each church every Sunday.

In 1954, he was named associate pastor of First United Methodist Church in Hyattsville, Prince George's County. He then served Gatch Memorial Church in Northeast Baltimore's Gardenville. Later, as pastor of Grace Church in Aberdeen, he led a campaign to build a new church. He subsequently served at Bethesda United Methodist Church in Montgomery County before returning as senior pastor to the Hyattsville church.

Mr. Cooney was also superintendent of the Baltimore East District based in Bel Air in the 1970s, and in the next decade was a development officer, business manager and treasurer for Wesley Theological Seminary in Northwest Washington. He retired in 1990, but stayed on as a planned-giving officer.

"He had long pastorates and was a builder and developer of churches," said the Rev. Edwin Schell, a retired Methodist pastor and historian who lives in Catonsville. "He was a person of force, and his stature commended him to leadership. He was entrusted with important duties within Methodism."

"My father was well-liked because of his integrity. He was clear on where he stood on things. He spoke honestly," said a son, the Rev. David S. Cooney, pastor of Towson United Methodist Church.

"He was a great visitor. He enjoyed going to persons' homes, hospitals and nursing homes," the son said. "He knew his congregation intimately. He was remarkable for this."

"He cared deeply for people," said another son, Donald Ross Cooney of Lancaster, Pa. "He was a very friendly, outgoing, gregarious man who was down-to-earth and accessible."

Family members said he was an effective administrator and preacher. They said his sermons were theologically insightful - but not abstract. "His preaching was almost conversational," Donald Cooney said.

Services will be held at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Towson United Methodist Church, 501 Hampton Lane.Mr. Cooney also is survived by his wife of 52 years, the former Doris A. Stetler, and six grandchildren. Another son, Douglas A. Cooney, died in 1998.

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