Richard P. "Dick" Cooley was born on November 25, 1923, in Dallas, TX to Victor Cooley and Helen Pierce Cooley. He grew up in Rye, New York and had three younger sisters-twins, Kay and Ann, and Helen. In Rye his family lived at 175 Locust Avenue and were members of the Church of the Resurrection.
Dick graduated from Portsmouth Priory in Rhode Island and was accepted at Yale University in 1940 at age 16. There he further developed his significant athletic skills and played tennis, squash, and football.
While attending Yale, Dick volunteered for the army and flew a Lockheed P-38 Lightning in the European theater of WWII. He served with the 370th Fighter Group.
The group provided cover for Allied forces that crossed the Channel on 6 Jun 1944 for the Normandy landings. They flew armed reconnaissance missions over the Cotentin Peninsula until the end of the month.
The group moved to the Cardonville, France, on 24 Jul 1944 to support the drive of ground forces across France and into Germany.
They attacked gun emplacements, troops, supply dumps, and tanks during the Battle of Saint-Lô in July 1944 and the Falaise Pocket in the Falaise-Argentan area in August 1944. The group moved to La Vieille Airfield, France, on 15 August 1944.
In December 1944, he was test flying a newly delivered P-38 when the dive flaps failed and he crashed. A Frenchman, in Dick's words ''his unnamed savior,'' took him to a local hospital. During the accident, Dick's right arm was severed.
Dick returned and graduated from Yale in the class of 1945 in Industrial Administration and Engineering. Although loss of his arm meant he no longer could play football for Yale, he retrained left-handed and played tennis, squash, and golf competitively. In the mid-1950s he became the national squash champion.
He first worked for the McCall Corporation in New York City in the commercial printing department. In 1949, with his first wife, Sheila, he moved to San Francisco and joined Wells Fargo and eventually became its president and chief executive in late 1966 at the age of 42. He was named chairman and chief executive in 1978.
In 1982, needing a change and a new challenge, he resigned from Wells Fargo. At the beginning of 1983, he was named chairman, chief executive, and president of Seafirst Corporation in Seattle. While at Seafirst, he determined that the best way to support investors and customers of the nearly bankrupt bank (due to loans to oil industry projects that failed) was a merger with Bank of America. Dick successfully orchestrated this and Seafirst was able to keep its name and management team for a time. Dick remained at Seafirst until 1992, staying on four more years as chairman of the bank's executive committee.
He was a member of the Augusta National Golf Club, Cypress Point Club, and Seattle Golf Club. Dick also continued flying as a private pilot with his third wife, Mary Alice, who passed away in 1999 from cancer, and with Bridget, who is also an accomplished pilot.
In retirement, Dick began periodic lectures at the University of Washington and made the case for an MBA class focused on the role of chief executive and critically important board relationships. Generations of University of Washington and eventually Seattle University MBA graduates benefitted from his course, which he titled The Chief Executive Officer and the Board of Directors.
It was one of the highest rated courses in the Executive MBA program at UW. After passing the lead instructorship to Bill Ayer, retired chairman and CEO of the Alaska Air Group, Dick continued to kick off the course each session by teaching the first class with a lecture that came to be called his ''Pocket Guide to Leadership.''
According to the director of the UW program, Louise A. Kapustka, as recently as the 2015-2016 winter and spring quarters, EMBA students ''enjoyed his insights and sage perspective.'' Louise described Dick as ''the quintessential leader-role model-generous with his time, modest about his accomplishments, and honest about his life lessons. Always approachable and a cheerleader for our students, it has been a rare privilege to know Dick. He made us all better-we'll miss his indomitable spirit.''
Dick was a class act, chivalrous and a man of true conviction. He led a life of quiet devotion, taking comfort in his faith daily. Like many of his generation, he made emotional and physical sacrifices in service to his country but with humble heroism and dignity, qualities he exhibited throughout his life.
He also possessed youthful vitality. Whether it was discussing flying, business, politics, or any other subject, he spoke with optimism and about possibilities. Dick was patient, adept at listening to others and skilled at offering words of wisdom. He had an enormous heart and a calm composure when he listened, often helping to facilitate the ability of others to act on their dreams.
His strong moral compass helped guide him through hardship and happiness with grace and a sense of purpose. Dick was and felt blessed in life, but he also felt ''lucky,'' a word he used often and cheerfully when he would marvel at his experiences and downplay just how hard he had worked for his achievements in business, athletics, flying, and bringing together communities of people in his home cities over the years.
Dick was committed to his large family, his many friends, and his boundless faith. He attended mass every day, although many people around him did not know that, as he was never one to bring attention to himself. For Dick, love and compassion were the answer to all of life's questions.
Dick mingled with captains of industry, policy makers, politicians around the world, and famous individuals. He gained audiences with three popes and even encountered Babe Ruth-yet he always preferred to be in the company of friends and family to whom he offered encouragement, motivation, and support.
Dick was described as a top quality ''Level 5 leader'' by Jim Collins in his book titled Good to Great (2001), which describes the success of Wells Fargo in the 1980s.
In addition to and in spite of the demands of his career, Dick served on both for-profit and nonprofit boards. For example, Dick was a director on the boards for United Airlines (UAL, Inc.) for 25 years beginning in the early 1970s; Pacific Gas and Electric; PACCAR, Inc.; Egghead Software; and the Burlington Northern Railroad board and audit committee from 1989 to 1994. He was an emeritus trustee of Caltech and on the board of the Kaiser Family Foundation from 1987 to 1994.
He also served as a trustee for the RAND Corporation from 1971-1981 and 1982-1992. Dick was a chairman for the United Way in San Francisco and Seattle. He served on other nonprofit boards ranging from the San Francisco Zoo early in his career, to the boards for the Los Angeles County Museum and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, to the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and Seattle Art Museum, to Seattle Prep.
In 2010, Dick published his memoir Searching Through My Prayer List, which describes his long and interesting life from childhood through World War II to his successful career as a CEO in banking to being a well-loved teacher in the business schools at the University of Washington and Seattle University. A revision of this book, titled Level Best, will be published by early 2017 and is dedicated to his son, Sean Cooley, who passed away from pancreatic cancer on April 30, 2015.
Richard ''Dick'' Pierce Cooley, 92, a former chief executive of both Wells Fargo and Seafirst Bank, died peacefully on Wednesday morning, September 21st, at home in Seattle in the arms of his loving wife, Bridget. His son, Richard Pierce Cooley, Jr., was also present.
Dick was a devoted husband, father, and friend. He was survived by his beloved wife, Bridget McIntyre Cooley; his children: Leslie Cooley (Kristine Jensen), Richard Pierce Cooley, Jr. (Christie Lane Cooley), Sheila Cooley (Mark Fagan), Mark Cooley (Joan D'Ambrosio); his stepchildren: Karin Costa, Susan Janneck, Michael Burnap (Irene Tanabe), Jim Burnap (Sarah Burnap), Anne Marie Cordingly, Bruce Cordingly (Anne Marie Ruljancich), Jessica Kolbe, Nicole Ludwig; his grandchildren: Miles Cooley (Claudia Costa), and son Enzo Cooley, Katherine Fagan (Noel Jensen), Dylan Fagan (Jenny Zhang), Charlotte Fagan, Richard Pierce Cooley III, Anne Cooley, Sean Cooley, Jr., Bridget Cooley; his step grandchildren: Nicholas Janneck (Hillary Janneck), Calvin Burnap, Brian Burnap, Clark Burnap, Alec Burnap, Trey Tickner, Quincey Tickner, Bruce Tickner, Eliot Cordingly; his siblings: Kay Cooley, Helen Cooley Reilly; and the following family members: Judy Chase Ludwig (former spouse), Jean Kayser (Sean Cooley's wife), Brenda Payne Cooley (mother of Sean's children), and James Buckley (Ann Cooley's husband).
Dick was pre-deceased by his spouses: Sheila McDonnell Collins and Mary Alice Clark Cooley; his son: Sean Cooley; and sister: Ann Cooley Buckley.
The Cooley family would like to thank the many caregivers and medical practitioners who helped care for Dick. His exceptional caregivers from McDonald Employment were Mahal Borres, Nikki Daza, Richard Kyabihende, Katie Kyllo, and Maria Lowe as well as staff from Evergreen Hospice.
Of her late husband, Bridget says, ''Dick Cooley was an exceptional human being. It was a privilege to be with him.''
A memorial service was held at St. James Cathedral Parish at 804 9th Avenue in downtown Seattle on Tuesday, November 1st at 3:30 pm. A celebration of Dick's life will follow at 5:30 pm at the Museum of Flight, 9404 East Marginal Way South.
The Cooley family requests that donations be made to the Fulcrum Foundation, which provides scholarships and help for the parochial school system. Donations may be mailed to Fulcrum Foundation, 710 9th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104 or made online at
Source: Beddingfield Funeral Service
Victor E. Cooley (1890 - 1983)
Helen Pierce Cooley (1897 - 1995)
Santa Clara Mission Cemetery
Santa Clara County
Created by: Mark Utley
Record added: Oct 21, 2016
Find A Grave Memorial# 171624754
Richard Pierce Dick Cooley
Added by: Mark Utley
Richard Pierce Dick Cooley
Added by: countedx58
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Birth: Nov. 25, 1923 Dallas Dallas County Texas, USA Death: Sep. 21, 2016 Seattle King County Washington, USA Richard Pierce Cooley November 25, 1923 - September 21, 2016 Seattle, Washington Graveside Service: Saturday, November 5, 2016, 1:30 p.m. Interment: Santa Clara Mission Cemetery, Santa Clara, CA. Devoted, blessed, and deeply loved husband, father, friend, and former CEO, Richard Pierce Cooley, 92, passes away. Richard ''Dick'' Pierce Cooley, 92, a former chief executive of both Wells Fargo and Seafirst Bank, died peacefully on Wednesday morning, September 21st, at home in Seattle in the arms of his loving wife, Bridget. His son, Richard Pierce Cooley, Jr., was also present.