Arts supporter helped numerous groups in Tulsa
BY TIM STANLEY World Staff Writer
Saturday, February 02, 2013
2/02/13 at 6:09 AM
Although she had met her husband on a blind date, Lucy Rooney was going into marriage with her eyes - and ears - wide open.
Moving to Muskogee with Larry Rooney, she knew, meant saying goodbye to many of the cultural opportunities she loved in the northeast, chief among them the renowned Metropolitan Opera of New York.
But the budding opera buff didn't let it get her down; instead, alert to new opportunities, she embraced the ones she found.
One of those was Tulsa Opera. With it, the passion that had begun for her with the Met, which she discovered while at Rosemont College in Pennsylvania, built to a crescendo.
Serving for many years on the opera board and its annual gala committee, Rooney made it her mission to spread the word about Tulsa Opera.
In 2008 at its annual Bravo gala, the Tulsa Opera Guild honored Rooney, who for years had donated her time and resources to the cause, helping the nationally acclaimed institution connect to a broader audience.
Lucy Turner Rooney, who was known throughout the state for her support for the arts, died Monday. She was 83.
A funeral Mass is set for 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Muskogee under the direction of Foster-Petering Funeral Home of Muskogee.
"Mom's great gift was that she was the ultimate connector," daughter Rebecca Rooney said.
"She poured her energy and spirit into connecting people - to ideas and other people."
She remembers once when her mother helped connect the Tulsa Philharmonic to Muskogee.
Arranging for a Philharmonic performance there, which turned out to be a big success, "she was able to expose people and expand their minds to the beauty of the arts," her daughter said.
"That's what motivated her. She wanted the arts to be democratic - with a small 'd' - for everyone."
In Tulsa, Lucy Rooney was a longtime supporter of the opera, the Philharmonic, and the Philbrook and Gilcrease museums, where she was a docent.
Appointed by Gov. Henry Bellmon, Rooney served a three-year term on the state Arts Council from 1989 to 1991 and also was an active supporter of the Oklahoma Arts Institute at Quartz Mountain.
A native of Pensacola, Fla., Rooney graduated from Georgetown Visitation junior college in Washington, D.C., and Rosemont College in Philadelphia.
When she met her husband, he was just back from World War II. The pair married and moved to Muskogee in 1950, where he went into the Rooney family business, Manhattan Construction Co.
Besides her love for the arts, Lucy Rooney volunteered with a variety of charitable causes, including Meals on Wheels and setting up an inmate library and reading program in prisons.
A Muskogee resident for 55 years, she moved to Tulsa in 2006.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Larry Rooney Jr., in 1980.
Her survivors include six children, Francis Rooney, Patrick Rooney, Timothy Rooney, Lucy Kapples, James Rooney and Rebecca Rooney; 18 grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.
Tim Stanley 918-581-8385
Lucy Rooney: "Mom's great gift was that she was the ultimate connector, said daughter Rebecca Rooney. "She poured her energy and spirit into connecting people - to ideas and other people." Lucy Rooney served a three-year term on the state Arts Council from 1989 to 1991 after being appointed to the position by Gov. Henry Bellmon