Jayne He­len Coo­ley, 67, long­time nurse, re­tired U.S. Army colonel

The Buffalo News - - OBITUARIES - Feb. 11, 1951 – Oct. 19, 2018 By Anne Neville NEWS STAFF RE­PORTER

Jayne He­len Coo­ley grew up on Ster­ling Av­enue near Her­tel, so she walked to school at Holy An­gels Academy. When the school closed in 2013, she told a Buf­falo News re­porter about the fam­ily at­mos­phere there and the strict but kind Grey Nuns of the Sa­cred Heart.

In fact, Jayne He­len Coo­ley, who at that point in her life was a re­tired U.S. Army “full bird” colonel, briefly listed some of her life’s chal­lenges and suc­cesses, then added, “I got a lot of things here that put me in a po­si­tion to do some­thing like that.”

Col. Coo­ley, a Ton­awanda res­i­dent, died on Oct. 19 in Buf­falo Gen­eral Med­i­cal Cen­ter, where she was ad­mit­ted on Oct. 17 af­ter suf­fer­ing a stroke. She was 67.

“She al­ways had a smile on her face,” said her sis­ter Bar­bara. “And if any­one had health prob­lems, she would say, ‘I’ll stop in,’ or ‘I’ll call,’ and she took it upon her­self to be of as­sis­tance when­ever she could. If she could help, she was right there.”

Col. Coo­ley was the youngest of five chil­dren of Joseph E. Coo­ley Sr. and Is­abel M. Car­dina Coo­ley. Her mid­dle name was a trib­ute to her aunt He­len (Coo­ley) Ja­cob, an Army sergeant who in 1945 co-founded the first Amer­i­can Le­gion post for fe­male vet­er­ans in Buf­falo.

Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from Holy An­gels Academy, where she be­longed to the Span­ish Club and played on the bas­ket­ball team, Col. Coo­ley grad­u­ated from Buf­falo Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal School of Nurs­ing in 1972. She earned a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in nurs­ing from the Univer­sity at Buf­falo in 1982.

Col. Coo­ley was a sur­gi­cal nurse for 11 years at Buf­falo Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal, work­ing on the neu­ro­surgery and oral surgery units. She then worked for sev­eral years as an in­dus­trial nurse at such com­pa­nies as He­witt-Rob­bins Rub­ber and Repub­lic Steel, then, in 1987, be­gan work as a self-em­ployed reg­is­tered pro­fes­sional pri­vate duty nurse. She cared for some pa­tients in hos­pi­tals, but mostly worked in their homes, con­tin­u­ing to care for some pa­tients for years.

On July 24, 1978, she joined the Army Nurse Corps, serv­ing for more than 32 years.

In De­cem­ber 1990, dur­ing Op­er­a­tion Desert Storm, she was de­ployed to the Per­sian Gulf as an op­er­at­ing room nurse with the re­serve’s Ni­a­gara Falls-based 338th Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal.

In April 1991, Col. Coo­ley, who then held the rank of ma­jor, wrote a let­ter to The News about her work in the 400-bed 31st Com­bat Sup­port Hos­pi­tal in Saudi Ara­bia.

“We were very busy for five days fol­low­ing the ground war in­va­sion,” she wrote. “We treated well over 200 ca­su­al­ties and per­formed nearly 80 op­er­a­tive pro­ce­dures. We op­er­ated on Amer­i­cans, Bri­tish and Iraqi POWs.”

By April, the West­ern New York re­servists were ready to end their de­ploy­ment, as many al­ready had. “We, too, are ready to come home,” she wrote. “Life in the desert is dif­fi­cult and not well-liked by many.”

She con­tin­ued on ac­tive duty un­til May 1991, when her de­ploy­ment ended, then was pro­moted to colonel in Fe­bru­ary 2001. She was hon­or­ably dis­charged in 2011.

In 2012, she was hired to over­see hos­pi­tal emer­gency pre­pared­ness for the West­ern New York Health­care As­so­ci­a­tion, based in Ton­awanda, said Liz Ur­ban­ski Far­rell, di­rec­tor of Mem­ber Ser­vices and Gov­ern­ment Re­la­tions for the as­so­ci­a­tion.

“Jayne worked closely with emer­gency pre­pared­ness of­fi­cials at New York State and var­i­ous county health de­part­ments, state emer­gency man­age­ment, re­gional and statewide hos­pi­tal as­so­ci­a­tions, and hos­pi­tals across the re­gion,” said Ur­ban­ski Far­rell.

“Jayne was ready to lend a hand when needed,” said Ur­ban­ski Far­rell, in­clud­ing help­ing mem­ber in­sti­tu­tions cope with win­ter storms and flood­ing, as well as doc­u­ment­ing and mov­ing pa­tients af­ter a struc­tural fail­ure at a nurs­ing fa­cil­ity.

“She was for­ever cheer­ful and down to busi­ness, learned all she could about emer­gency pre­pared­ness and worked well with her col­leagues,” said Ur­ban­ski Far­rell. “If any­one ever had a ques­tion about which doc­tor to see or any sim­i­lar as­pect of health care in West­ern New York, Jayne knew the an­swer ... She knew many prom­i­nent physi­cians on a first-name ba­sis, and they knew Jayne.

“It is a great sad­ness that she left us in such a hurry,” said Ur­ban­ski Far­rell.

At a din­ner, Col. Coo­ley once re­vived a co-worker, said Ur­ban­ski Far­rell, adding, “Those of us who were present view Jayne as sav­ing that co-worker’s life.”

Be­sides her sis­ter Bar­bara, Col. Coo­ley is sur­vived by three broth­ers, Joseph E. Jr., Paul J. and Kevin P.; 10 nieces and neph­ews; 12 great-nieces and -neph­ews; four aunts and many cousins.

A Mass of Chris­tian Burial with full mil­i­tary honors will be cel­e­brated at 11 a.m. to­day in St. Mar­garet Church, 1395 Her­tel Ave., Buf­falo.

Memo­rial con­tri­bu­tions may be made to the Amer­i­can Le­gion, www. le­gion.org/do­nate.


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