Gary Lee “Butch” Cooley passed peacefully surrounded by his family on April 12, 2022, at his home in Harlingen, Texas. Born on November 20, 1944, in Raymondville, Texas, he was the son of the late Richard and Doris Cooley. His sister, Kay Cooley Crenshaw, preceded him in death in 2002.
He married his high school sweetheart, Gretchen Knapp Cooley on July 11, 1964. They had five children: Lenae Cooley Gray (deceased), Gennie (Charla), Chris, Kirk, and Chad (BJ). He was beloved “Daddy Butch” to Ashley Morrow, Taylor, Cole “Bubba,” Bo Lenae, and Parks Gray. In 1967, Butch graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Texas A&M University, College Station.
Butch worked alongside his father-in-law, Parker Knapp, at Knapp Chevrolet in Harlingen, Texas, where he eventually became the Chevrolet Dealer Principal from 1989 through his retirement in 2007. He had a passion for restoring classic Chevrolets, including Corvettes. Butch was a football referee for over 40 years and a member and past president of the Harlingen Rotary Club for over 50 years, where he took much pride in his 35 years of perfect attendance. He also was a longtime, devoted deacon of First Baptist Church in Harlingen.
His core values were his relationship with Jesus Christ and his family. Butch and Gretchen made it a priority to attend every sporting event for all five of their children, even when there were multiple games in one day. He taught his children the value of hard work, that their word means everything, and that God should always come first.
The family wishes to express their gratitude to Tony Arroyo, Butch’s caregiver, for his compassionate care.
Pallbearers are his dear friends, Mike Davis, Joe Charles Ballenger, Bobby Sparks, Tony Guerrero, Cole Cooley, Bobby Maines, Walter Parce, James Warner and Mike Wisdom. Honorary pallbearers are Ed Knetig, Ed Harvey, Tip Johnston, and Johnny Kutzenberger.
The Cooley family will receive relatives and friends on Tuesday, April 19, 2022 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. in Chapel B of Buck Ashcraft San Benito Funeral Home. A celebration of Butch’s life and of God’s faithfulness will take place Wednesday, April 20, 2022 at 2:00 p.m. in Chapel A of the funeral home.
Click the link below to view a livestream of the Celebration of Life service.
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