Barbara Jean (Jenkins) Cooley was born at Mercy Hospital in San Diego. The youngest of five children, she was the daughter of Mary and Herbert Jenkins. Her mother homeschooled her until she started attending the Academy of Our Lady of Peace. Barbara graduated from Hoover High School in 1946 at age 16. After high school, she enrolled in San Diego State College. She joined a sorority and became Pi Beta Phi’s first president at San Diego State during her senior year. She graduated with Distinction with an Education Major in 1950 at age 20.
Barbara’s future husband, George Robert “Bob” Cooley, also attended San Diego State. They met at a dance at the Officer’s Club when she was 17 years old. After graduating from college, Barbara taught kindergarten at Rolando Elementary School. Bob and Barbara were married in 1951. Their first child arrived a year later, followed by three more children. Barbara retired from teaching to raise their children. Their first house was in Casa de Oro in San Diego County. In 1968, they moved to a new home near El Cajon to accommodate their growing family.
Barbara and Bob were devoted Catholics and one of four founding families of Santa Sophia Catholic Church in Spring Valley. They attended mass at Santa Sophia every Sunday for 60 years.
After her three older children were grown, Barbara returned to San Diego State and earned a degree in Library Science. In her later years, she enjoyed gardening, photography, keeping current on the latest children’s literature, her book club and reading to her grandchildren. Barbara and Bob were married for over 71 years. Bob predeceased her on June 1, 2022. Barbara is survived by her children, Susan, Sara (Clint), Bruce (Jeannette), John (Delia), six grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.