James 4:10 “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”
In meeting and talking with Mr. Kenneth Cooley at length this scripture comes to mind and describes what ones lasting impressions are of this fine gentleman.
Kenneth Cooley was born in Fulton County on August 20, 1915 to Justice and Gladys Cooley. He attended Fayette Schools and was part of the Fayette team that won the Fulton County Tournament Championship two straight years in both 1932 and 1933 the year in which he graduated. Upon graduation Kenneth went directly into farming on the family farms where he grew up just outside of town.
He had a classmate by the name of Vera Marie Schaffner that had attracted his attention and they were joined in Holy Matrimony in the year of 1940. Prior to this marriage Vera attended BGSU and received her “Teaching Certificate” in two years. She then taught at Fayette Schools until she was married. At that time, a female teacher could not be married so Vera was terminated. It was in the late 1950’s when she went back to Bowling Green and earned enough credits to get her teaching certificate renewed and taught at Pettisville Elementary for 20 more years.
“Kenneth and Vera acquired three farms from 1940 to 1959 totaling around 225 acres. In addition to crop farming, Kenneth and Vera and their family were involved in a number of animal operations over the years starting with dairy, egg production, and then later developing a cattle feeding and then hog feeding operation as well”.
Their family consisted of two sons and one daughter. The children all helped out on the farm as they were expected to with various chores and duties. They all attended their parent’s alma mater at Fayette and were very active in many school programs and sports activities.
Along with this background another very important part of their upbringing was attending the Fayette United Methodist Church with their parents.
Son, Curtis Cooley received his Bachelors and Masters degrees at Ohio State University. Daughter, Kaylene Cooley Ashbridge, received her Bachelors at Bowling Green State University and Masters at the University of Cincinnati. And son, Rich Cooley attended Bowling Green University and received a B.A. degree in Education and an M.A. degree in Higher Education Personnel Administration.
When discussing these years of raising the children along with his wife you can see the joyful proud father look shine in Kenneth’s eyes.
Kenneth was named to the Fulton County Hall of Fame in 1990.
He was involved with the Soil Conservation Service, as an officer working in the initial phases of grass waterways and his activities as a member of the Fulton County Cattle Feeders was another challenge that he loved and was very dedicated to.
He also was a Gorham Township trustee for many years and worked on the improvement of township roads via better roadside drainage systems.
Kenneth was a 70 year member of the local Lions Club and he was also a Master Mason.
But the place where he spent his whole life and has been very active and dedicated is the United Methodist Church. This has been a very big part of everything this man has ever done and has had a very positive influence on both him and his family.
Kenneth Cooley farmed for almost 55 years growing primarily corn and soybeans. He also fed cattle for almost 40+ years.
He also was a director of the local bank having served in various capacities.
Kenneth lost the love of his life Vera in 1998. They had a fantastic life together and accomplished many things through hard work and faith.
This humble gentleman lived in the same farmhouse for 70 years, before moving to assisted living at West Haven in Archbold, Ohio at the age of 98.
Mr. Cooley is so reserved and does not want anyone to think too highly of him. I can tell you that he has done much more for the fine community of Fayette than most folks will ever be aware of.
This is a man that did it the old fashioned way through hard work, loyalty and trustworthiness.
When asked what he has learned in life and would like to pass on, he summed it up in a “nutshell”. Be honest with one another and be yourself. Believe and live by the ethical and moral standards that you are supposed to.
Every community across America needs folks like this gentle man to make their lives better.
Kenneth Cooley will be 100 years of age on August 20, 2015. What a great impact he has made in this past century on many lives.
John may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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