Carolyn Lindley was born on March 12, 1933, in Tulia, Texas to Horace Buchanan Lindley and Ruth Stewart Lindley where they, along with her brother Horace Keith Lindley, lived an idyllic small town life. Carolyn’s family roots traced back to the very first settlers in Texas and she treasured that connection to her native state’s history. Faith, education and music played immeasurable roles in her childhood and remained integral throughout her life. While in high school, Carolyn was grateful to serve God as the pianist and organist at her church for all worship services, weddings and funerals. Family, the First Baptist Church and the Tulia Public Schools set the tone and played an enormous role in her preparation for life.
Carolyn attended Baylor University in Waco, Texas where she continued her love for poetry and literature, later graduating with a degree in Education. While at Baylor, she belonged to the Delta Alpha Pi club where she “found her voice” and enjoyed singing for pledge parties, dances and numerous campus activities. Recalling her senior year as magical, Carolyn served as President of Delta Alpha Pi, hosted her own television show (“The Song Shop”), was chosen by her classmates as senior class nominee for Homecoming Queen and later represented Baylor University as a finalist in the Maid of Cotton Contest in Memphis, Tennessee. Carolyn fondly looked back on her four years at Baylor as “absolutely wonderful” and further establishing the solid foundation for the rest of her life.
While her senior year was magical, Carolyn’s junior year at Baylor would prove legendary as she met the love of her life, Robert Heald Cooley, one of her brother’s best friends. Realizing the perfect match, she attended the summer session at the University of Colorado in order to graduate early so they could get married on April 17, 1954. After an exciting year and a half “honeymoon” when Rob was a traveling auditor for the National Hotel chain, they chose to settle in Tampa, Florida and the rest, as they say, is history or English/American Literature in Carolyn’s case. Upon settling in Tampa, Carolyn launched her indelible teaching career that would last many years and favorably impact many lives while also serving as a devoted mother to their two children, Laurie and Craig. The usual family stuff: school, trips, sports, music, pets and everyday interactions made for a lifetime of remarkable stories and loving memories. The Cooley family shared many wonderful experiences together with Carolyn at the heart of it all making a house a warm and loving home at 2302 Lila Lane for many years.
Carolyn returned to teaching with a self-developed Americana course at St. Mary’s Parochial School in the hopes of making American poetry, literature, music, culture and history more accessible to the students. As most know, she absolutely loved discussing all things Americana and her favorite color was forever “red, white and blue.” Carolyn’s continuing involvement in education took many paths eventually leading to a Master’s degree and ultimately a Ph. D. in her beloved American Literature from the University of South Florida. Her doctoral dissertation became a published book “The Music of Emily Dickinson’s Poems and Letters: A Study of Imagery and Form” and opened a whole new world of opportunities to continue educating herself and others. It all came full circle when the English Department at Baylor University invited Carolyn to be the featured speaker at their annual House of Poetry in the very room of the Armstrong-Browning Library wherein she had given a musical program upon induction into Sigma Tau Delta, the national honorary English society, fifty years earlier. Carolyn experienced many such “God winks” throughout her life and even compiled the beginnings for another book about the abundant nature and amazing impact of such faith-based occurrences in her many years.
Carolyn’s Christian faith was rock solid, carried her through difficult times, and warmly embraced her during the countless joyous occasions that made up her life. She lived a remarkable life richly blessed by a vital faith, divine intervention, wonderful family and incredible friends. Carolyn thoroughly enjoyed the varied stages of her life and always remained grateful for her many blessings.
Carolyn is survived by her brother Horace Keith (Diane) Lindley; daughter Laurie Cooley (Jack) Bentley; son Robert Craig (Jeanne) Cooley; grandson Brett Chandler (Cammie) Bentley; and great grandson Jackson Alan Bentley.
A Celebration of Life will be held at Blount & Curry-MacDill Avenue from 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., service at 11:00am, Friday, July 22, 2022. In lieu of flowers, the family respectfully requests any donations be made to Canine Companions (Southeast Region) or Hope Children’s Home (Tampa).