The MCC Community, especially the English/Philosophy Department, past and present, lost someone very special when Anne Cooney, faculty emeritus, died on Sunday, September 8, 2013.
Anne was exceptional; she was the consummate student and teacher. After Anne retired in 2007, she didn't return to MCC to teach a course or two each semester; she enrolled in a course or two-- learning new languages, taking piano classes, and more. Anne could teach almost any course in our curriculum, from Children’s Literature, to Detective Fiction, to Women’s Literature, to British Literature. Anne approached every course with a breadth and depth of knowledge.
She traveled extensively to all parts of the world, where her energy for seeing museums, shows, lectures, and hidden sights was at a pace few of us could match, even 25 years go. She had a love of classical music and was a member of the choir at Christ’s Church and a member of many community book clubs. All of this while raising her beloved son, Jeremy and later in life, her beautiful greyhounds.
Anne, for several years, was our department scheduler, using her organizational talents and her unique way with people. Anne had the driest sense of humor and quickest wit and refused to put up with too much that annoyed her. These gifts made her such a great college professor and colleague. She could sprinkle lectures about the Victorians with little known anecdotes to keep her students with her. She could keep us all laughing, and many of us amazed, as when she quickly wrote a poem about making deviled eggs while her greyhound tap-tapped around the kitchen to present at the last minute for our department “Skunk Hour” poetry reading.
Colleagues fondly recall Anne’s willingness to share her time and materials when they were prepping courses for the first time, particularly Children’s Literature, Women’s Literature, and Detective Fiction. In fact, they were going to the right colleague, since Anne was largely responsible for these courses becoming part of our curriculum.
Anne’s wit and dry humor touched all who knew her, as did her passion for reading widely. Colleagues in all areas of our discipline could have long talks with Anne, because she was so well read and always reading. Her annual Christmas letter ended with a list of book recommendations in many genres and disciplines. Associate Professor Tony Leuzzi, cherished her sound perspective and lifelong passion for reading widely and deeply, noting, as well, that it was on her recommendation that he attended a summer course on Old and Middle English in Durham, England.
Anne’s colleagues considered her a mentor and friend. When coming down the 5th floor hallway to see Anne at her office, you'd usually have to wait until she put down the New York Times. Anne even protected us: years ago, when a bat started flying through the halls of the fifth floor and nobody seemed to be able to do anything about it, Anne ,fed up, took action, quickly chasing it down.
Her humor and intellectualism are remembered by all, but it was her genuine presence and caring when a colleague was in need that has stayed with us most: Colleague Doug Brooks wrote recently that, “Anne's sense of humor was eclipsed only by her compassion and intelligence. Another, Cathy Smith, remembered fondly, “I also loved her soft side, the kind, caring woman who opened her home to Arrow, a huge, lumbering male greyhound.”
When Anne retired, the department lost a “Renaissance” colleague, her students lost a “Renaissance” professor, and the College lost one of its best. She lives on for today’s students through the courses she created, for her colleagues by the many policies she help make and the historical presence carried on by those of us mentored and cared for by her.
For some of us, that office at the end of the hallway will always be Anne’s.
A Memorial Service will be held Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013, 11 AM at Christ Church, 141 East Ave. Rochester, 14604. Contributions may be made to the Anne W. Cooney Memorial Fund at the Rochester Area Community Foundation at HYPERLINK "https://www.racf.org/Donate".