Early life and education
Rooney was born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to Fred B. and Veronia K. (McGreevy) Rooney. He graduated from Bethlehem High School in 1944 and served in the United States Army ( February 1944 to April 1946), with service in Europe as a paratrooper.
In 1950 he graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Business Administration.
He served as a member of the Pennsylvania State Senate for the 18th district from November 5, 1958 until his resignation on August 6,1963.During his five year tenure in Harrisburg ,Rooney was appointed head of the interstate highway commission . He also helped manage John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign efforts in Lehigh Valley.
In 1963 upon the death of United States Representative Francis E. Walter ,Rooney was elected as a Democrat to the 88th Congress, by special election . Rooney remained in the U.S. House until being defeated by Republican Don Ritter in 1978.He blamed his defeat primarily on Ritter’s stereotyped campaign against high taxes and big government ,something Ritter said Rooney stood for.
In 1976,he served as an architects of the legislation that created Conrail , a government funded private company that took over the railroads of bankrupt companies.The subsides were a point of connection in the 1978 upset loss to Ritter.
After leaving Congress, he joined Cassidy & Associates, a consulting firm representing business interests in Washington, D.C. He later established his own consulting business, representing clients such as Contrail, the Association of American Railroads and Victaulic Co. of Forks Township.
The state legislature in 2009 renamed the portion of Pennsylvania Route 378 in Bethlehem from US 22 to the Hill to Hill Bridge the Fred B. Rooney Highway, recognizing his role in the creation of that portion of the highway.
He died at his home in Washington D.C. on December 23, 2019 .
He is survived by his wife Everly Rooney, their children, Timothy Gregory and Martha and seven grandchildren.