Aug. 1, 1930 — Jan. 9, 2019
James J. Mooney taught industrial arts at Buffalo State College for more than a quarter century, from the mid-1960s until the early 1990s.
But he was well known in many places, from Christ the King Church in Snyder to the Amherst cafes where he met friends for coffee every morning and evening after his wife died.
His enjoyment of people was surpassed only by his love for his family, who remember him as a beloved father and grandfather who led the family in outdoor activities and basement projects.
Mr. Mooney, 88, professor emeritus at Buffalo State, died Jan. 9, 2019, in Elderwood at Williamsville after a period of failing health.
He was born on Aug. 1, 1930, in Millbank, S.D., the second son of Cornelius Mooney and Christine (Pillatzki) Mooney. Cornelius Mooney was a farmer and later worked nights in a grocery store distribution center. They raised their family, which included Mr. Mooney's siblings — Vernon, Virgil and Alice — in Delano, Miss.
Mr. Mooney graduated from local schools and went on to Ellendale Normal School in Ellendale, N.D., where he played college football and earned a bachelor’s degree, the first in his family to do so.
He served in the U.S. Army from October 1952 until October 1954, during the Korean conflict.
Mr. Mooney was stationed at Fort Knox. With aid from the GI Bill, he earned a master’s degree in education from Colorado State University. While teaching at Mankato State University in Minnesota, Mr. Mooney met Beverly Lauer.
They married on Dec. 26, 1960, in Waterville, Minn., and had three sons.
Mr. Mooney earned a doctorate in education at the University of Maryland.
An industrial arts teaching position at Buffalo State brought the family to Snyder, where the Mooneys raised their sons on Mount Vernon Avenue.
Mr. Mooney held various leadership positions in his field, which later became known as industrial technology.
"Typically, he worked with the students who were preparing to be teachers," said his son Michael. Besides teaching, he observed and evaluated student teachers in their placements, his son said.
He retired from Buffalo State in the early 1990s.
He was the past president of the Buffalo Ski Club and the Central Amherst Little League and a loyal volunteer in his parish, Christ the King.
He always had a project in progress, his family said. He built a full-sized canoe in his basement with his sons and a barn at his cabin south of Buffalo.
Mr. Mooney enjoyed camping, travel, skiing, golf, fixing things and good conversation, his family said.
He doted on his sons and grandchildren, reading stories in funny voices.
Mr. Mooney's wife, Beverly, died in 2005 after 45 years of marriage. After a short time, his son said, because "he wasn't cooking very well," Mr. Mooney developed a daily routine. He met a group of male friends for coffee and breakfast in the morning in the McDonald's on Kensington Avenue near Harlem Road, and met a different group around dinnertime in the Tim Hortons in the Walker Center on Main Street.
He did this for almost a decade before moving into assisted living in 2015, his son said.
Besides his son Michael, Mr. Mooney is survived by his sons Thomas and Patrick; seven grandchildren; a sister, Alice Lindahl; and several nieces and nephews.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be said at 9:30 a.m. Monday, Jan. 28, in Christ the King Church, 30 Lamarck Drive, Snyder.