Remembrance: Longtime Rumson-Fair Havenite, RFH Grad, Daryl Cooper Ley, 58

“There are places I remember … all my life, though some have changed. Some forever not for better. Some have gone and some remained. All these places have their moments, with lovers and friends I still can recall … In my life, I’ve loved them all.”

In My Life ~ The Beatles

And those who knew her, loved her right back …
She was Daryl Cooper Ley.

She grew up in Fair Haven, an adventurous girl who could sport scuffed knees, pigtails, snap some Double Bubble Bubble Gum bubbles and vroom a moped like no other. She was a Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School (RFH) grad with many a prank to pull, paper airplane to fly and hearty hyena laughs to share. She was a supportive, fun Rumson mom and wife with a brazen love of all babies, children, adolescents and teens. She was a compassionate philanthropist. She was a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a friend.

Daryl left this world and those she loved just before the sun rose on Saturday, Feb. 16, after a stare-down brave, laugh-in-your-face battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 58 … and left behind precious pieces of her heart and soul for all to hold onto tight and love evermore.

Her favorite color was light teal. Her favorite songs were In My Life, by The Beatles, and Follow Me, Follow You, Genesis. Her passion was her loved ones, particularly her children and their happiness. Snuggling babies and puppies brought her beaming joy. She gifted that same pristine glee to everyone in her life.

In her life, she loved them all.

Daryl’s obituary tells her story for today, on what would have been her 59th birthday …

“Oh I’m better for the smile you give … And while I live, I will follow you. Will you follow me?

Daryl Cooper Ley
Photo/Elaine Van Develde

Born in Scituate, MA on February 20, 1960, Daryl spent her early childhood in Chappaqua/Mt. Kisco, NY. Daryl’s family moved to Fair Haven when she was 12, where she and her siblings spent most of their youth in their home on Haddon Park. She graduated from Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School (RFH) in 1979, having spent her first high school years with the RFH Class of ’78 and some time at Blair Academy. She then went on to graduate from Ithaca College with a bachelor of science (B.S.) degree in Recreation. 

After college, Daryl met Thomas Gerard Ley, whom she married in 1989. Daryl and Tom built a life together, settling in Rumson where they raised their four children, Adrienne, Thomas (Cooper), Ben and Becca, who all graduated from RFH, like their mom. 

Daryl and Tom moved to Spring Lake in 2016, where Daryl lived the last years of her life close to the ocean she so loved. 

Daryl spent much of her life by the water. An excellent swimmer, she became the first female lifeguard of Manasquan Beach in the 1970s. Over the years, she taught swimming lessons to children of all ages, including her own, loving every minute of giving many little ones the gift of a good swim without a fear in the world. 

Daryl’s true passion in life was spending time with her family and dogs. She cherished them and her friends and was infinitely generous with her fierce, gentle loyalty and love. Always smiling with a special twinkle in her bright aqua eyes, Daryl blessed each person she encountered in her life with the gift of her contagious laugh, caring spirit and enduring zest for a good adventure. She loved spontaneous trips to Ocean Grove in the summertime, barbecues, cozy snow days by the fire, and a good ride in a convertible with her favorite tunes from her youth blasting, wind whipping through her hair. She was an angel on Earth, bearing a unique gift to each person she knew. 

Daryl was preceded in death by her father Robert Reynold Cooper. 

Those left to cherish her memory are: her husband of 29 years, Thomas; her beloved four children, Adrienne, Thomas Cooper, Benjamin, Rebecca, and her special other daughter, Tammy Gu; her mother, Thelma (Teddie) Caulfield and step-father Barry; and her four siblings, Robert Reynold Cooper Jr., of ME, Patti Cooper Orluk and her husband Bill, of NY, Gregory Cooper and his wife Cathy, of Neptune City, and Suzan Cooper Anderson and her husband Peter, of CT; her 26 nieces and nephews, who all adore her; and her senior pup, Jorgi, and four-legged grandbaby, Tucker.

Special thanks to the doctors and nursing staff at Weill Cornell and Jersey Shore University Medical Center for the wonderful care Daryl received. 

Relatives and friends are invited to attend the viewing from 4 to 7 p.m. on Friday, February 22, at Orender Funeral Home, 2643 Old Bridge Road, Manasquan. The funeral service will follow at 11 a.m. on Saturday, February 23, at St. Paul’s Church, 80 Embury Avenue, Ocean Grove. 

In lieu of flowers, it was Daryl’s wish that donations be made in her name to Pancreatic Cancer Action Network or St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital