Where Food, Drinks & Stories Are Shared

Seamus Cooney

June 5, 1933 - December 10, 2023
Kalamazoo, MI


Life Story Visitation

Saturday, January 13, 2024
11:00 AM to 1:00 PM EST
Live Stream
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
Kalamazoo Location
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
(269) 375-2900

Food, Drinks and Stories will be shared.

At 1 pm there will be eulogies, a time of sharing, and prayers.

Driving Directions


At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.

Doctors without Boarders
Web Site


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

1830 S. Westnedge
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
(269) 349-4961
Driving Directions
Web Site

Taylor's Florist and Gifts
215 E. Michigan Ave.
Paw Paw, MI 49079
(269) 657-6256
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


Seamus Anthony Cooney passed away suddenly on December 10, 2023, leaving behind a remarkable legacy. Born in Dublin Ireland on June 5, 1933, he was an only child of Eamonn and Gertrude Cooney. His father had nicknamed him “my school prince” since he loved books, excelled in his studies, graduated with honors and earned a scholarship to attend a college in the US. However, being strong-willed, his path to higher education had some rough beginning. About his early life in Ireland, he once gave the following account about his childhood and education in Ireland:

" I was born in Dublin, Ireland, and educated painfully -- not to say brutally -- by the Irish Christian Brothers in various of their institutions, most horribly for some four years at Colaiste Mhuire (I still harbor fantasies of throwing bombs at it) and briefly at one now on the World Wide Web, O'Connell School! My father, an ex-IRB member and patriotic follower of De Valera (he was a T.D. or member of the Irish Dail [parliament] for 16 years), satisfied his nationalistic impulses in part by forcing me to go for years to a school in which Irish was the medium of instruction. Learning Latin through Irish filled my head with a fog which has never fully dissipated. Luckily for me, after I had twice quit school entirely, I found myself for a year at Rathmines School of Commerce, a city funded vocational school which had one class preparing students for the matriculation (or college entrance) exam. It was here that I first had an opportunity to study French (unknown to the Christian Brothers in my day). Without that year's work I would not have been able to take French in college.”

Seamus received his B.A (first class honors) in English and French from the University College in Dublin, his M.A. from Indiana University, and his PhD from UC Berkeley. While at University College, Dublin, he became friends with then Civil Servant and later distinguished poet Thomas Kinsella, and then found himself teaching French at a boys' seminary in Armagh (St. Patrick's) for a couple of years. He also spoke French fluently. Seamus taught at Indiana University and Loyola University of Los Angeles prior to coming to Western Michigan's English Department in 1971. His courses here at Western included nineteenth century fiction, modern and contemporary literature, genre courses in fiction, poetry, and creative writing, film studies to name a few. He also taught courses on Chaucer, Shakespeare, Scott, Yeats, D. H. Lawrence, and Joyce. He is widely published with scholarly articles, book reviews, and books which were edited by him. Apart from teaching, he was an editor for Black Sparrow Press, an independent publishing house founded in Los Angeles in 1966 by John and Barbara Martin. Seamus served as an editor with Black Sparrow Press for many years and it was via his connection with the press that the "Seamus Cooney Black Sparrow Press Collection" was purchased by Edwin and Mary Meader for Western Michigan University. The collection is comprised of the records of the press's editorial office, plus copies of close to every book the press ever published in all of their various editions.

Apart from reading, Seamus enjoyed classical and jazz music, films, good wine, good food, and good company. From his retirement in 2003 until one week before he passed, Seamus worked daily in his small on-line book business called Celery City Books, which specializes in first-edition and hard to find books and prints. He and his wife worked side by side in this business and, during school holidays and vacation, enjoyed trips to several destinations in Europe and Asia with their young daughter Tara Roisin. The three love traveling to Japan, Spain, France, Italy, Germany and Denmark where they experienced art and cultures firsthand. He also visited his native Ireland and his wife's native Thailand.

Shorty before his passing, and after coming back from a visit to an ER at Borgess, he smilingly recited the poem, "I look into my glass” by Thomas Hardy. The poem describes Hardy's introspection into aging and the impact of time and the changes it brings. He is survived by his loving wife of 26 years, Chotiros Permpikul, as well as their young daughter, Tara Roisin. Also surviving are his ex wife Kay Takahashi, three older children and their spouses: Hugh (Gigi), Michael(Sarah), and Tamar (Eric), 8 grandchildren: Shane (Rachel), Andrew (Chelsea), Leah, Jackson, Nathaniel, Mika, and Alex and Jordan Martin. He will also be much missed by the Permpikul family, especially Drs. Chairat and Parichart, Chaivut and Chantima Permpikul and several friends and admirers in Thailand.

Please join us at a Life Story Visitation where food, drinks and stories will be shared from 11 am to 1 pm on Saturday, January 13, 2024 at Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900. A time of eulogies, sharing and prayers will be held at 1 pm. Visit Seamus’ webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos and sign his guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to Doctors without Boarders.