John Joseph Cooney, 87, of Leicester, MA and formerly of Auburn, passed away peacefully on December 22, 2021, at The Meadows in Leicester, after a brief illness.

John was the son of George and Gertrude (Doyle) Cooney, and was predeceased by all eight of his siblings; William, Grace, George, Mary, Edward, Gertrude (Collins), Dorothy, and James Cooney. He leaves nineteen nieces and nephews, the children of his brothers George (Auburn), Edward (Millbury), James (Worcester), and sister Gertrude Collins (Hudson). He also leaves a sister-in-law, Paula Cooney, wife of his brother James.

John was a graduate of St. Peter’s High School and Worcester State Teacher’s College and served in the Army, stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He worked as an elementary teacher in the Worcester Schools, both public and private, with many years spent teaching science at Heard Street School.

After retiring, John purchased the three-story home in Cherry Valley that his father had grown up in and lovingly restored it to its former glory. His nieces and nephews fondly recall family gatherings at Sargent Street.

The family historian, John passed on his great pride in his Irish heritage, documenting family genealogy and sharing stories of his ancestors. He was recently a guest at the re-dedication of Cooney Square in Cherry Valley, a tribute to his uncle, William Cooney, the first of the men from town to lose their lives in WWI.

John enjoyed watercolor painting, gifting family and friends with beautiful cards and paintings. As a resident at the Leicester Housing Authority, he brought great joy to his neighbors with his many thoughtful gestures, as well as his wonderful sense of humor.

The family would like to thank the staff at The Meadows and Ascend Hospice for their kindness and attention to John in his final days. And to Leicester Veterans Service Officer Jason Main USN Ret. for his invaluable support.

A Mass will be celebrated at Our Lady of the Angels Church, 1222 Main Street, Worcester, MA at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, December 29, 2021. Due to COVID-19 concerns, there will be no formal calling hours.

For one hour prior to the Mass there will be a display of photos and mementos at the back of the church, with a book for signing and an opportunity to share memories. John has requested that his body be cremated, and burial will be arranged by the family at a later date. Following COVID guidelines, masks should be worn in the church.

John’s nephew, Stephen Collins, who passed away in October, will also be lovingly remembered at this Mass.

Over the years, John mentored many of his students, saving the letters they sent to thank him for his guidance and belief in them. In lieu of flowers, you may choose to make a donation to your local school, or to the charity of your choice.