Bob Cooley passed away on June 1, 2022, just two and a half months shy of his 95th birthday. Bob was a third-generation San Diegan. He grew up in Hillcrest and attended Grant Elementary School and Horace Mann Junior High School. He graduated from San Diego High School in 1945. The day before he turned 18 years old, Japan surrendered and the war was over. Bob always said, “The news that the war was finally over was the best birthday present an 18 year old male could receive.”
Bob was a proficient clarinet and alto sax player. He played in the Bonham Brothers Boys Band and, at age 14, became its drum major. While in high school, Bob played sax and clarinet in local swing bands. He later played in a U.S. Army Band and, during college, at the Wagon Wheel Dance Club. The GI Bill financed his college degree from San Diego State College.
Bob briefly attended law school at U.S.C., and business school at U.C. Berkeley, before returning to San Diego to be near his girlfriend and future wife, Barbara (Jenkins), who he met in college. They were married in 1951. Bob returned to San Diego State College to obtain a teaching credential and a Master’s in Education.
Bob was a teacher in the San Diego City Schools before being promoted to principal in 1961. His first principal position was at Montezuma Elementary School. In June 1963, President Kennedy’s Motorcade was scheduled to drive on Montezuma Avenue on its way to San Diego State College where President Kennedy would give the graduation commencement speech. Bob arranged for the elementary school students to stand on the sidewalk in front of the school and wave to President Kennedy as he drove by. Bob was also principal of Carver Elementary School and Linda Vista Elementary School. His last assignment was Elizabeth Freese Elementary. Bob’s career with San Diego City Schools lasted for 33 years. His 1987 retirement party was attended by many teachers and staff members with whom he worked over the years.
Bob became a member of the Roman Catholic Church after marrying Barbara. In the 1950s, they were founding members of Santa Sophia Catholic Church in Spring Valley. They both attended mass every Sunday for 60 years. Bob volunteered as a CCD teacher and extraordinary minister.
Bob remained busy during his retirement. With Barbara, he spent time hiking in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and taking photographs. He developed and printed black and white film in his home darkroom. One of his photos won a prize at the Del Mar Fair. Bob also loved reading history books about World War II, working in his backyard, spending time with his grandchildren, and taking morning walks with his German Shepard.
Last year, Bob and Barbara celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. Bob is survived by his wife Barbara, his four children, Susan, Sara (Clint), Bruce (Jeannette), and John (Delia) and his six grandchildren, Eric, Alec, Olivia, Shannon, Patrick and Bridget.
Bob’s marriage, family, religion, work and hobbies were always very important to him. He lived the life he wanted.