Lily Cooley grew up in South Kalimantan (Borneo), Indonesia. And was brought up by her extended family that includes grandparents, aunts, uncles and siblings; She was the oldest of seven children. Then, She moved to the city of Jakarta and attended high school for six years in Jakarta. In 1976 her father passed away. Lily and her mother struggled to support the family. Her mother struggled to support Lily to go to hairdressing school. Lily was tremendously lucky to have this opportunity that helped her gain a job at the House of Beauty in Jakarta. In 1980 Lily came to Chicago, and attended Truman College. Then, she went to London and Paris to attend more beauty school. When she returned to America, she came back to Chicago and happily marriage with Thomas Cooley.
In Chicago, Mrs. Cooley participates and supports many activities in the Indonesian Communities, Indonesian Consulate General, and Indonesian Students Association, Indonesian Catholic Community, and Indonesian Christian Community. She loves cooking especially ICE CENDOL, the renowned Indonesian sweet dessert. Her Ice Cendol is so popular in Indonesian Community in Chicagoland, and many people tasted it in many social occasions, such as: 2015 Nepalese Earthquake Relief, 2014 Peduli Manado, 2014 Mt. Kelud & Mt. Sinabung Fundraising, 2015 Sarotari Fundraising, 2013 & 2014 Taste of Nusantara – Bazaar & Fun Stage for Indonesian Election, and Skokie Festival of Cultures, to name a few. She also contributes donation for building a church in Nusa Tenggara Timur-Indonesia by selling Ice Cendol.
In 2015, She served as Co-chair in Hospitality of the Asian American Coalition of Chicago’s 32nd Conference on Business and Networking & Annual Lunar New Year Celebration 2015 hosted by Indonesian American Community. This one-day-event concludes: Business Fair, Senior and Family Health Fair, Networking Forum, Business & Health Forum, Youth Education Networking Forum, Immigration Law Workshop, Fashion Show, Cooking Demo, and the annual Lunar New Year Celebration Gala dinner. She also served as Co-chair in Hospitality of the 14th Asian American Festival in Daley Center Plaza, Chicago. She is a representative committee member of the Indonesian Diaspora Network (IDN-Midwest) and member of the Indonesian American Community of Illinois (IACI).
Lily’s father told her from a young age that she should never be greedy. He said, “Live in world and don’t be greedy.” She has lived with this core value all her life. For a long period, Lily contributed and raised money for three families to pay for food, clothing, and school fees. She also helped her sister go to catering school and set up a catering business. She also supported her family by giving her family school fees that allowed her nieces and nephews to go to school and graduate. “Live in world and don’t be greedy.”