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John Burke Cooney

John Burke Cooney, age 87, of Birmingham, Ala., passed awaySunday, May 18, 2008. Preceding him in death were his cherishedwife of 57 years, Patricia Kenney Cooney; his parents, Mary Rockand Michael Cooney; and his infant grandson, Max Rafield.

John (Papa) is survived by one brother, Mickey Cooney Jr.; sevenchildren and 19 grandchildren: John and Lizbeth Cooney, ofBirmingham, their children, John Burke, Patrick Stewart andVirginia; Gary Cooney, of Birmingham; and his children, Michael,William, and Bonnie Cooney Pounds; Nancy Cooney Barnacastle, ofBirmingham, and her children, Ryan, Daniel and John Riley; Peggyand Conrad Rafield, of Birmingham, and their children, Grant, MaryCarleton and Logan; Mary Jane and Billy Williams, of Birmingham,and their children, Tricia and Caroline; Kelly and Maureen Cooney,of Brookhaven, and their son, Kelly Jr.; Jobay and Barbara Cooney,of Birmingham, and their children, Harrison, Barbara Banks, ThomasBurke and Abbigail. He is also survived by special relativesFrankie Kenney, George Zanthos and Say Tee.

John was a devout Roman Catholic and a man of God. He was amember of Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church for more than 50years, and a committed adorer of perpetual adoration in the Chapelof our Savior. He was also a charter member of the Father James E.Coyle division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians. His prayerfullife and dedication to his wife serves as an inspiration to hisfamily and friends. He is with his Lord and reunited with his wifein God’s glorious heaven.

John was a sergeant in the United States Army Air Force duringWorld War II in charge of Special Services in the China, Burma andIndia Theater. For his exemplary service during World War II, hewas awarded the Pacific Theater of Operations Ribbon with threebattle stars and the Presidential Unit Citation. Following hismilitary service, he began an illustrious career in the insuranceindustry, which included being the founder of several insurancecompanies. He was president and CEO of Stonewall Insurance Company,Dixie Auto and Atlanta Casualty Insurance Company. He was afounding board member of Gulf Life Holding Company, and boardmember of holding companies controlling Interstate Life, Gulf Life,American Life, National Car Rental, Braniff Airlines, LTV, andFirst Western Bank of Los Angeles, Calif.

An avid sportsman, John was an outstanding golfer and baseballplayer. His love for the game of golf began as a caddy for DwightD. Eisenhower at the age of 13. As an amateur golfer, John had 14holes-in-one, two double eagles, and shot his age in golf moretimes than he could remember. He was a member of Country Club ofBirmingham and a member of the “Rollers.” John’s professionalbaseball career included playing shortstop for the Boston Braves,Cincinnati Reds and the Chicago Cubs baseball organizations.

Visitation will be held on Tuesday, May 20, 2008, at Our Lady ofSorrows Catholic Church from 5:30 until 7 p.m. Rosary to follow.Funeral Mass will be Wednesday, May 21, at 10 a.m. at the church.Graveside services to follow at Elmwood Cemetery. Rideout’s ValleyChapel in Birmingham will officiate.

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be sent to Our Lady of SorrowsSchool Foundation, 1728 Oxmoor Road, Homewood, AL 35209, or UnitedCerebral Palsy Children’s Program, 120 Oslo Circle, Birmingham, AL35211, or your favorite charity.