Born April 2, 1939, in Abilene, Texas, he grew up in nearby Hodges and graduated high school in Hawley in 1957 after a standout athletic career in basketball and track and field.
Cooley was one of the top collegiate hurdlers in the nation during his four years (1958-61) at ACU as a member of a world record-setting relay team for legendary coach Oliver Jackson (’42).
Cooley and Wildcat teammates Dennis Richardson (’63), Bud Clanton (’61) and Olympian Earl Young (’62) set a world record of 1:22.6 in the 880-yard relay April 7, 1961, at the Texas Relays. That season Abilene Christian also won the 440, mile and distance medley relays in Austin, added baton titles at the Penn Relays and California Relays, and three times set the collegiate record in the mile relay to earn recognition as the best all-around relay team in the nation by Track and Field News.
A senior, Cooley was captain of the 1961 ACU team and a teammate of Olympian Bobby Morrow (’58) as a freshman at Abilene Christian in 1958. Cooley lost only one hurdles race as a freshman and two as a sophomore in 1959, and he set the national freshman record of 22.6 in the 220-yard low hurdles. He was the Texas Relays champion in the 120-yard high hurdles in 1959 at 14.3, and twice he was ranked No. 2 in the nation in the 220 hurdles by Track and Field News.
Cooley graduated with a B.S.Ed. degree, then went on to teach history and coach at Crocket Junior High in Odessa, Texas, before serving as head track and field and assistant football coach at King High School in Corpus Christi, Texas. He married Barbara Sedberry and had three children.
He retired from teaching and coaching in 1966 and entered the farming and ranching business in Hodges, where he lived until 1988 before moving to Noodle, Texas.
Cooley was inducted to the ACU Sports Hall of Fame in October 2015.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Edward Jefferson Cooley and Lily Inez Stephenson Cooley, and a brother, David Edward Cooley.
Among survivors are Barbara Cooley; sons Calvin Wayne Cooley Jr. and Craig Dean Cooley; a daughter, Christa Lynette Erb; a brother, Richard B. Cooley; a sister, Wanda Gayle Sellers; and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.