Stonebrook Village Dedicates Library To Fred ‘Bud’ Cooney
Stonebrook Village dedicated the complex’s library in honor of Ret. Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Fred ‘Bud’ Cooney, a beloved resident. Cooney, a noted author on Coast Guard history and traditions, was also awarded the Connecticut Wartime Service Medal. Cooney, who wore his old uniform, appropriate summer whites, has terminal cancer. His wife, Ann, along with family and friends, joined him for the dedication. Guests were invited to stay for a steak dinner afterward.
Cooney served in the Coast Guard, both active duty and reserves, for 31 years. A Korean era veteran, he entered service shortly after graduating from LaSalle Academy, in his native Providence, Rhode Island. His time included serving as a radioman aboard a cutter patrolling the Aleutian Islands of Alaska, then still a territory. He later earned a direct commission as an officer. He commanded the Port Security Unit in Albany, New York. Cooney is currently writing about his time in the Coast Guard.
He told the dozens of guests present he was overwhelmed by their support, which gave him “chills.” He thinks of Stonebrook as a ship, led by a captain, Lorraine Doonan, the executive director. Cooney described his fellow residents as passengers on a journey.
“It’s just a joy from day-to-day, and that’s what I’m trying to do,” he said. He was Stonebrook’s first resident when the place opened in October.
His brother, Robert Cooney, who lives in Venice, California, said he immediately made plans to attend the ceremony and celebrate Fred’s birthday, on May 28.
“To him, it has been a tremendous uplift,” Robert Cooney said. He added his brother was on duty as the radioman during the February 1952 rescue of crew members from the SS Pendleton, which split in half off the coast of Chatham, Massachusetts. The Coast Guard crew faced high seas and vicious winds churned by a nor’easter. It was considered one of the most daring rescues in Coast Guard history.
In 2016, the account was turned in the Finest Hour, a movie starring Chris Pine, Casey Affleck, and Ben Foster. Robert Cooney said his brother gave a talk on Morse Code to Stonebrook residents one night.
“He’s a talented writer and he knows the history of the Coast Guard,” he said of his brother. Like most brothers, sibling rivalry was common in the Cooney household. Eighteen months younger than Fred, he and his brother remain close.
“He’s a great guy and everyone here will attest to that,” he said.
Wayne Rioux, the veteran’s liaison for Hartford Medical Healthcare, presented Cooney with the medal. Deacon David Madejski, of St. Mary’s Church, gave the opening prayer and benediction. Several residents read poems in Cooney’s honor, including a poem entitled, ‘Ode to Bud.’
Life Enrichment Director Christina Pitts presented Cooney with a book of poems.
Cooney’s son, Mike, of Pinedale, Wyoming, said, “The size of the library doesn’t matter. It will never stand up to the size of the honor all of you have given to my father and to our family today.”