The Cooney Family


Doug '49 and Doris '49 Cooney

More than 60 years ago, Doris Stetler Cooney '49 found Gettysburg College (influenced by Wally Fisher '40, her associate pastor at the time) and "It fit me." It has also fit a second and a third generation of her family.

On campus she met the late Doug Cooney '49, who was studying history and secondary education, while she studied Spanish. She wanted to be a Pan Am hostess; he was deciding whether to teach or preach. Doug decided to go to Seminary. The airline would not hire Doris if she was engaged: she happily chose to build a life with Doug.

Freedom to choose helped make Gettysburg special for Doris, along with faculty who challenged her. "One of the biggest advantages of a liberal arts education," she notes, "is that there are options. You figure out what you want."

Doug Cooney '49 with granddaughter Meghan Cooney '06

Doris lights up when she remembers her son Don '79 choosing to come to Gettysburg. Amid regular moves required by his father's ministry, the Gettysburg area (including his grandparents' cabin) "was very much home," he recalls. On campus he met Dianne Lappe Cooney '79, who was led to Gettysburg by its strong music program. They sang in the choir while he studied Greek and she studied economics and education. Today, Don raises funds for Swarthmore College and Dianne teaches elementary science. 

"I was taught to be a giver," Don says. In addition to their annual support, he and Dianne have emulated Doug and Doris by including Gettysburg in their estate plan, making them second-generation members of both the 1832 Society and the Cupola Society. Doris and Doug's plan included charitable gift annuities, which continue to provide income to Doris. "They were one of the best things we ever did," she says.

While working for Gettysburg in the 1990s, Don told an alumni group that the College "continues to afford opportunities to ask, to explore, to discuss the earnest questions of life." His and Dianne's daughter Meghan Cooney '06 sounds a similar note. She recalls the first meeting of a philosophy class, when Prof. Kerry Walters entered the room reading from The Odyssey and wearing a shirt with an image of Gandhi on the front and a back that read, This skinhead for peace. Instantly, Meghan knew "I was home." Music had also drawn her to the College, but, in addition to singing in the College Choir and Camerata, she chose to study philosophy, loving the philosophy department's nontraditional approach: "It was not pencils and chalkboards, but people and ideas."

Meghan has also followed her dad into fundraising, joining the staff at Washington College. She began supporting Gettysburg her senior year and still supports the Gettysburg Fund, joining her family in sustaining the community they love.

Meghan '06 and Dianne '79 Cooney



Don Cooney '79

Dianne '79 (Lappe) and Don '79 Cooney

Doug '49 and Doris '49 (Stetler) Cooney; Don '79 and Dianne '79 (Lappe) Cooney; with Dianne's parents at graduation