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Dave Cooley, chamber executive in 7 cities across the South, dies at age 93

David William "Dave" Cooley, a Hendersonville native who served as the top Chamber of Commerce executive in Hendersonville; Anderson, S.C.; Greenville, S.C.; Jacksonville, Florida; Dallas; Washington, D.C.; Spartanburg, S.C.; and Memphis, where he served twice and his last stop before his retirement in 1995, died Sunday, June 26, at age 93. He passed away peacefully in Mechanicsville, Virginia, where he had recently relocated. 

Dave Cooley was born on Feb. 6, 1929, in Hendersonville to Arthur and Reina Cooley. The oldest of two boys, he spent his early life in Western North Carolina and Upstate South Carolina. After graduating from Hendersonville High School in 1948, he served a tour in the United States Marine Corps. He returned to civilian life where he spent five decades working and managing Chambers of Commerce.

Cooley met his first wife Diane Miller in 1952. They married in 1953 and had six children: Ann, David, Elizabeth, John, Philip, and Matthew. After losing Diane in 1978, Dave met and married Beth Williford. Beth had five children: Alex, Catherine, Charles, Robert, and Kelley.

His life was marked by career achievements, world travel and a large family including 13 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. Dave leaves behind a legacy that will not soon be forgotten. Family, friends, and acquaintances all over the globe will remember his large personality, strong demeanor and his soft side.

He is survived by four of his children and five of Beth’s children and their spouses; grandchildren David, Peter, Elisabeth, Hannah, Folline, Quay, Katie, Read, Brynn, Ash, Allison, Maggie, and Lillie. He is also survived by his brother Arthur Cooley, President and General Manager of WHKP in Hendersonville. Dave is predeceased by two extraordinary women, Diane and Beth, and two children, his daughter Elizabeth and son David Jr.

Dave faced the end of his life with great hope and faith in God, telling his family that he was ready to go “home” to heaven. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation in his memory to the charity of your choice.