Cover photo for Mary Lou Cooley-Hechmer's Obituary
Mary Lou Cooley-Hechmer Profile Photo
1933 Mary 2020

Mary Lou Cooley-Hechmer

November 22, 1933 — February 1, 2020

Mary Lou Cooley-Hechmer was born on November 22, 1933 in Cass County, Iowa and passed away February 1, 2020 at her home in rural Adams County, Iowa. The first daughter of John Martin and Mary Elizabeth (Lynam) Sullivan, she spent her early years at home. When she was a young teenager, her parents enrolled her in Ottumwa Heights Academy as a boarding student. She would come home summers and work for Pat & Nellie Jennings and helped Dick and Alice Anstey with their large family. She graduated high school at the Academy in 1951 and enrolled in Ottumwa Heights College to achieve her 2-year teaching certificate in 1954. Everyone knew of her deep Catholic faith, so when a young Harold Eugene Cooley, Jr. (Gene) met, dated and decided she was the one for him, he secretly began taking instruction to join the Catholic Church, while serving in the military at White Sands New Mexico. Gene then proposed and they were united in holy matrimony on August 3, 1954 at St. Timothy Catholic Church, Reno, Iowa. To this union six children were born with the family purchasing and moving to a family farm in rural Adams County in 1962 and becoming active members of St. Timothy and raising their children as part of the “Reno” faith family. After Gene’s death in 1995, Mary Lou married John Lawrence Hechmer on November 9, 2002 and lived for a few years in Canal Fulton, Ohio before they returned to Iowa and made their home back on the family farm. John passed away in 2007.
Mary Lou was a life-long learner and enjoyed people. She worked at the Coffee Shop in Corning summers of her college years. She taught school in several communities before and after her marriage to Gene. Believing in community she assisted in founding a senior meal site in Adams County and became first manager of the Corning Congregate Meals. She went back to school at Southwestern Community College and received an Associate Arts degree in office administration. She was a bookkeeper at Sorensen Grain Elevator south of Cumberland, Administrative Secretary to the Director of Nursing at Mercy Hospital in Corning, an office assistant at the Adams County Extension Office, and as a para-educator at Corning Elementary. She again focused on education as she became a certified Activity Director and shared her love of people in both Corning Nursing & Rehab Center and Villisca Good Samaritan Home. She and Gene were also avid volunteers and taught their children the joy and importance of giving back to their communities.
Mary Lou was the director of religious education for many years at St. Timothy church as well as a catechist. She was a member of the Altar Society, a board member of Iowa Right to Life, Corning Public Library, Rose Ann Auxiliary, and Adams County House of History, She held leadership roles in the Adams County Republican Party, Corning Library Board, Eager Beaver 4-H Club and 4-H special projects.
Mary Lou is survived by her children Mike (Dawn) Cooley of Orient, IA; Bev (Steve) Keeler of Riverside, IA Dr. Mary Jo (Jeff) Cooley Hidecker of Laramie, WY; Beth (Dan) Waddle of Corning, IA; Jane Mack of Greenfield, IA; and Paul Cooley of Clarinda, IA. Step-children Michael Hechmer; Thomas (Marilyn) Hechmer; Lawrence Hechmer; Paul (Tess) Hechmer; David (Katie) Hechmer; Catherine Hechmer; Carol Hechmer; Rita Hechmer. Grandchildren, Anne (John) Goebel; Chad (Emily) Cooley; Scott (Meghan) Cooley; Kyle (Marie) Cooley; Michael (Crystal) Cooley; Dawna (Heath) Mitchell; Patrick Cooley; Mark Cooley; Ayla Hidecker; Mylanie Hidecker; Stephanie (Brent) Giles; Tamara Haley; Thomas (special friend Independance) Kibbe; Sarah (special friend Matthew) Mack; Ashle (Cliff) Holmes. Six step-grandchildren. Seventeen great grandchildren. Sister Ellie Bane. Special aunt, Margaret Jacobs. Many nieces, nephews, cousins, Beginning Experience friends, and other friends and family.
Preceding her in death are her parents; parents-in-law Harold Cooley and wives; husbands Gene Cooley and John Hechmer; son Marty Cooley; son-in-law Richard Mack; step-daughter Teresa Hechmer; great grandson Noah Holmes.
The family thanks everyone for the love and support of all who have shared with us during our time.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Mary Lou Cooley-Hechmer, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Wednesday, February 5, 2020

5:00 - 7:00 pm (Central time)

Pearson Family Funeral Service & Cremation Center - Corning

701 7th Street, Corning, IA 50841

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


Thursday, February 6, 2020

Starts at 11:00 am (Central time)

St. Timothy's Catholic Church-Reno

69488 Wichita Road, Cumberland, IA 50843

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


Thursday, February 6, 2020

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