Dunkirk Observer

Paul Cooley

Paul Cooley of Church Street in Gerry graduated from high school in Indiana, Pa., in 1953. He participated on his high school track and baseball teams and was a member of the National Honor Society. He graduated from Roberts Wesleyan College in 1958 with a BA in English and did graduate work at SUNY Fredonia and Syracuse University.

His first teaching job was in Gowanda where he remained for a year before going to Cassadaga Valley in 1960. In addition to teaching at Cassadaga until his retirement in 1993, he was the school’s newspaper advisor for 31 years. His journalism students won more than 50 awards and he was selected as one of 25 journalism teachers nationwide for a fellowship grant at Syracuse University in 1963. He was chosen as an advisor of the year in the St. Bonaventure press competition in 1973. He began a literary magazine in 1975 and it was published for 12 years. Both the magazine and newspaper received first-place awards in the Empire State Press Competition in 1977 and 1978.

While at CVCS Paul also helped design the high school English elective program and participated in a Saturday Lake Studies Program where he aided students in producing a short film. He began a photography program at the school and taught photography for 20 years, designed a darkroom and started a camera club.

He coached several sports at CVCS over 24 years and suffered only one losing season. He coached JV basketball for 11 years, winning the county JV title in 1965 with a 22-1 record. He was an assistant track coach for three years and assisted in victories at three straight County meets and two Sectional meets. He also helped raise money to build a track at CVCS.

He was varsity baseball coach for two years and won the league championship in 1975. He coached varsity softball for eight years. His 1991 team won league, sectional and regional titles to become the first softball team from Chautauqua County to advance to the state tournament. Paul was named 1991 Coach of the Year by the Jamestown Post-Journal.

He has played softball in the Jamestown Church League and Firemen’s League for 35 years, including last summer when he was the league’s oldest player at 60.

He also coached Babe Ruth, American legion and Ellington Legion baseball.

He has been a high school and college basketball official for 34 years, working both boys and girls Section VI championship games and a girls Western Regional final.

He is a life member of the Gerry Volunteer Fire Department and chairman of the Town of Gerry Zoning Board of Appeals. He served as Youth Director and Christian Education Director for the Gerry Free Methodist Church for 20 years.

In his spare time, he enjoys hunting and playing golf and since his retirement has been doing some wedding photography.

He has been married to the former Martha Anderson for 40 years. The Cooleys have three daughters. Nancy Phillips lives in Gerry and is a church secretary. Judy Wright is a homemaker in Charlottesville, Va., and Carol Payton is an elementary art teacher in Portsmouth, Va.


The additional financial assistance of the community is critical to the success of the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame. We gratefully acknowledge these individuals and organizations for their generous support.

Font Resize
Contrast