Elsie R. Stearns Cooley

Elsie Ruth Stearns Cooley died peacefully at home on September 27, 2018. She was born in Westbrook, Maine on October 27, 1929 to Elbert and Ruth (Rumery) Stearns. Elsie was the youngest of four children who grew up in southern Maine during the Depression and learned to be frugal, creative, industrious, and committed to family. After graduating from Hollis High School in 1947, Elsie married Fred W. Smith.

They moved to South Carolina with their six children, then to Connecticut, and finally in 1963 to Milford, New Hampshire. There Elsie worked at the Hardy greenhouses and Hunter Press. After her divorce from Fred, she married Boyd Cooley in June 1971 and they made their home in Hudson with his four children. Elsie also provided care for multiple grandchildren over many years. They became Snowbirds when Boyd retired in 1987, with homes in North Fort Myers, Florida and at Lake Pawtuckaway in Nottingham, New Hampshire. In 2015 they settled in Raymond, New Hampshire full time.

Elsie was known for many things, including her chocolate chip cookies and Jamie’s Jello Salad. She loved carnations and pansies, hummingbirds and other wild birds, Sousa marches and children. Thanks to those who offered kind words such as these to describe her: “a wonderful lady”, “a beautiful woman inside and out”, “a second mother”, “a fun person”, “a sweet, lovely woman”, and “a true angel” with an “aura of goodness” who “made me feel like family”.

Elsie is survived by her devoted husband Boyd Cooley and their children: sons Philip (Margaret) Smith, Kevin Cooley, and Russell (Valerie) Cooley; daughters Pamela Smith Van Doren, Patricia Smith, Barbara Flanders, Carolyn (John) Lauginiger and daughter-in-law Elizabeth Smith. She is also survived by 18 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren, and her dear friend Shirleyann Watts.

Elsie was predeceased by her parents and four of her children: Fred Smith Jr., Peter Smith, Melanie Smith Adams, and infant daughter Christy Sue Smith. She was also predeceased by her son-in-law David Van Doren, brothers Stanley Stearns and Richard Stearns, and sister Laura Milliken.

A memorial service will be held at noon on Sunday, October 14, 2018 at Alvirne Memorial Chapel (160 Derry Road in Hudson, New Hampshire). A reception will follow at the same location until 4:00 PM. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations in Elsie’s name be made to the Alzheimer’s Association or the American Cancer Society.

“Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.” Proverbs 31:28