The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


March 12, 2014

James "Barney" Cooney

JOPLIN, Mo. — James "Barney" Cooney, 82, of Joplin, passed away peacefully Monday morning, March 10, 2014, after a brief illness.

He is survived by his wife, Sharon, also of Joplin; his son, Nigel of Washington, D.C.; his son, Brendan, of Fayetteville, Ark.; his sister, Margaret, of New York City; and two nieces, Sarah Exell and Caroline Exell, of West Sussex, England. He was pre-deceased by his father, James Cooney; mother, Kathleen Cooney (Hoye), of Dunshaughlin, Co. Meath, Ireland; brother, Michael Cooney, of Co. Tipperary, Ireland; and sister, Nancy Exell, of West Sussex England.

Mr. Cooney was born Aug. 6, 1931, in Castlebellingham, Co. Louth, Ireland, and grew up in the town of Dunshaughlin, Co. Meath. After graduating from St. Finian's secondary school in Mullingar, Co. Westmeath in 1949, he joined the Society of African Missions Seminary in Galway and later immigrated to the United States where he completed his seminary studies at Kenrick Seminary in St. Louis. He was ordained in 1959 in Springfield. He later received his master's degree in theology from the University of Notre Dame.

Mr. Cooney served as a Roman Catholic priest in Springfield from 1959 to 1969, and was the Newman Center chaplain at Southwest Missouri State College, now Missouri State University in Springfield. During his tenure at the college, he was one of the founding faculty members of the Religious Studies Department.

In 1975, he married Sharon Smith, of Neosho; they spent the first years of their marriage in Ireland teaching at Castle Park School in Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin. They returned to the U.S. In 1978. They lived in Sarcoxie and Joplin, where Mr. Cooney worked as a paralegal for a number of area law firms. Mr. Cooney became a United States citizen in 1987, following the birth of their two sons in 1980 and 1983.

Barney Cooney was an avid and lifelong reader, and over the course of his life, he assembled a vast library of books on language, law, religion, and history. In his later years, he was an enthusiastic golfer, and spent many happy hours pursuing what he termed "a good walk spoiled" with his good friends Dennis Detert and Jimmie Jones. He is remembered as a kind and gentle man, a lively and even eccentric personality, who had the full measure of Irish wit and charm. He was a loving husband, a devoted and proud father, and he will be dearly missed by those who knew and loved him.

A memorial service is scheduled for Thursday, March 13, at 10 a.m. at Thornhill-Dillon Funeral Home in Joplin. Fr. Justin Monahan will officiate.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Compassus Hospice of Joplin in care of the funeral home.

On-line condolences may be sent to the family through our website

Arrangements are under the personal care and direction of the Thornhill-Dillon Mortuary in Joplin.

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