Edith Kennedy Coogan
March 13, 1932 â January 21, 2022
Loving wife, mother, sister, aunt, grandmother, great-grandmother, devoted friend, tireless volunteer and organizer
Edith Kennedy Coogan, 89, resident of Cranford and Avon-by-the-Sea, NJ passed away peacefully on January 21, 2022 surrounded by her family. She was a strong and kind woman who lived a wonderful life with a loving family and abundant friends, neighbors, and colleagues she met through the various charitable endeavors she founded during her life.
Born on March 13, 1932 in Orange, NJ, Edith grew up in West Orange, attending Immaculate Conception High School in Montclair. At age 20 she met Jack Coogan, the love of her life, at the beach in Belmar. Their ride home that day began a love story that continued for 67 years, until Jack died in 2018.
Her greatest joys came from spending time with her husband and family, whether it be at Christmas or Easter after enjoying the music at Mass, or at other family gatherings, dancing and singing, even if a tad off key; attending events of her children and grandchildren, eating ice cream and hot dogs, playing games with the kids, and making quilts for each new grandchild and great grandchild who joined the clan.
She loved a good mystery novel, watching Masterpiece Theater and old shows that made her laugh, like George Burns and Gracie Allen. Back before seatbelts, Edith was the first Mom in the neighborhood to let 10+ kids pile into her Thunderbird to go sleigh riding and she was generally the first down the hill! She enjoyed attending Seton Hall basketball games, and catching up with friends, while listening to one of Barry's Irish jokes at Kilkenny's, or having coffee and a sweet treat at Track 5 Coffee or a glass of wine at the Cranford Hotel.
Edith Coogan believed in the strength of community, and in thinking of neighbors as part of one's extended family. There were often more than the seven Coogan children in the house on Tuxedo Place and in fact, the Coogans hosted a Christmas open house for 25+ years in the greatest neighborhood ever.
A woman of extraordinary faith, Edith was a Eucharistic Minister and Lector at St. Michael's RC Church in Cranford for many years, where she also developed numerous programs that helped parishioners and members of the Cranford community in need. She had the ability to "gently engage" those making decisions to go along with her vision and plans. And she got things done. Such projects included Fish of Cranford, Project Home, 4-H clubs at Saint Elizabeth's, delivering sandwiches to soup kitchens, St. Joseph Social Service Center, Good Samaritans, and the Lazarus Ministry, all of which involved Edith coordinating volunteers to help their neighbors in times of need and/or grief. But her largest undertaking was the project that engaged so many people from the community: Raphael's Life House, which she started with her friend Mary Orrico. These two women brought the community together to transform an abandoned convent into a real home where homeless pregnant Moms could live for a year with their babies. Raphael's Life House opened its doors in 1993, and has provided a home to over 700 new families. Members of the community continued to provide clothing and supplies, training, mentoring and babysitting services so that these families could become independent. In 2013, Raphael's Life House joined with Covenant House New Jersey and currently provides a safe haven for young families.
Over the years, she received numerous awards for her community work including the Caritas Award from The Archdiocese of Newark, The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Distinguished Service Award from the Cranford Clergy Council, Top 100 Irish Americans of 1998, the Union County Women of Excellence Award, and the Russ Berrie Making a Difference Award.
She is survived by her sister, Ruth Kennedy of Hackensack, her brother, Charles "Chuck" Kennedy of Parsippany; her children Patricia Coogan Wyle (Christopher) of Palm City, Florida, Jeanne Coogan of Metuchen, Mary Coogan (Stephen Reuning) of Millstone Township, Ellen Coogan (Greg Barnes) of Green Bay, Wisconsin, Anne Coogan (Gary Meisch) of Avon By The Sea, John R. Coogan, Jr. (Michele Germann) of Freehold, and Katherine DuPont (Joseph) of Highlands; her 12 grandchildren, Melissa, Tim and Amy Wyle, Brien (Caroline) and Meredith Rocha, Winston Reuning (Dana), Alison Acevedo (Silvio Dantas), Kelsey and Sean Meisch, Kaitlyn Miller (Michael), Corinne Ferraris (Matthew), and Eva Rose DuPont; six great-grandchildren: Anastasia, Nicholas, Winston 2.0, Harrison, Emerson, Sophia and one on the way. She is also survived by loving nieces Debra Kennedy and Kathleen Kennedy Hall, and nephews Michael Kennedy (Lisa) and Joseph Kennedy (Stephanie Gottschalk); great nieces and nephews and their children, and many devoted friends. Daughter of the late Charles Kennedy and Eleanor (nee Boehmer), she was predeceased by her brother-in-law Thomas J. Coogan Jr., nephew Thomas Kennedy and granddaughter Elizabeth Reuning.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial donations in Edith's name be made to Raphael's Life House, Inc., c/o Covenant House New Jersey, 330 Washington Street, Newark, NJ 07102 or to St. Michael's RC Church, for the Building Fund, 40 Alden Street, Cranford, N.J. 07016.
At the present time Edith's children invite family and friends to join with them in a Mass honoring and celebrating her life on Wednesday, January 26th at 10:30 A.M. at Michael's RC Church, 40 Alden Street, Cranford. Interment will be private.
The family will invite family and friends to celebrate Edith's life at later date in the spring. In the meantime, we ask that if you were helped by our mother or one of her programs, that in her memory, you reach out to help someone in your family or community who is in need or suffering from grief. Thank you.
If anyone is unable to attend the Mass Of Christian Burial. You may go to St. Michael's Roman Catholic Church of Cranford for the live stream service.