Bloomsburg native’s $1.1 million bequest to create BU scholarships

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A generous bequest from a Bloomsburg native will have a lasting impact on Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania students.

Betty Smith Cooley, 88, died in May 2008 leaving $1.1 million to BU to establish endowed scholarships in her name. Although the specific criteria for the scholarships have not yet been determined, Nelson Swarts ’63, interim executive director of the Bloomsburg University Foundation, said the funds could provide full scholarships for three or four students a year.

“Mrs. Cooley didn’t have a direct connection with the university other than growing up in Bloomsburg,” Swarts said, “but she must have had a great affection for the ‘Friendly College on the Hill’ lasting decades after she moved away. ”

Cooley was born in Bloomsburg in 1919, the daughter of Keifer C. and Edna I. Smith. She grew up on West Third Street and graduated from Bloomsburg High School in 1937. After working briefly at the Marietta Dress Shop, she moved to Harrisburg to work for the state of Pennsylvania.

She married Harold Cooley in 1946 and the couple moved to Philadelphia and then Skokie, Ill., a suburb of Chicago. She was employed by G.D. Searle & Co. and, later, in the executive offices of A.C. Nielsen, best known for its Nielsen Ratings, until her retirement in 1973. Cooley volunteered at the St. Francis Hospital in Evanston, Ill., and was a member of Central United Methodist Church.

Swarts said the regulations governing endowments will make available at least $40,000 to $50,000 per year to fund scholarships covering the costs of tuition, fees and books.

For information on establishing endowed scholarships or making other gifts to Bloomsburg University, contact the BU Foundation at (570) 389-4524 or foun@bloomu.edu.

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