Richard Paul Cooley died peacefully at home on Thursday, April 24, 2014, just short of his 99th birthday. Richard was born June 27, 1915, in Elwood the son of Ruby Paul Cooley and Anna Louise (Yelvington) Cooley. Many would say Richard was a rare man among men. His gentle manner and compassion were obvious to all who met him. He was a lifelong learner, always eager to listen to others and engage in intellectual and lively conversation.
Richard was a very talented classical violinist - which he would call a fiddle. After high school, Richard moved to Washington DC to live with his aunt and uncle. He played the violin as a member of the Bell Trio, which in part financed his education. While attending college in Washington DC, Richard began in engineering but became interested in the study of law; and later graduated with a law degree. He wanted to practice law in Indiana and had to attend a “grade A” law school, so after the service, went to night school to attain a second law degree at Indiana University in Bloomington.
Richard served during WWII in the U.S. Army Counter-Intelligence Corps from October 1941 until his Honorable Discharge December of 1945. In his capacity as Investigator, Richard was stationed at the Manhattan Project, based at Los Alamos, New Mexico. Richard was also one of the team of military professionals who in July of 1941 accompanied bomb components to San Francisco, to be loaded onto the USS Cruiser Indianapolis for transport to Tinian Island in the Pacific.
Richard retired from the Travelers Insurance Company in1980, after serving more than forty years in numerous legal positions within the Company, including Corporate Secretary and Senior Counsel. He worked an additional twenty years as an Administrator for Connecticut Life and Health Insurance Guarantee Association, retiring from that post in 2005, at ninety years of age.
In his leisure time, Richard and his wife, Frances enjoyed restoration of their 1760’s home in Wethersfield, Connecticut. A gifted carpentry and quality furniture maker, Richard found great satisfaction in restoring and updating their home. He was an active member of the Wethersfield Historical Society for many years. He had a lifelong interest in history in general and the Civil War in particular. Richard and Frances enjoyed traveling all over the world. They greatly enjoyed attending the theatre, especially Theatreworks and the Good Speed Opera House.
Richard is survived by his daughter, Tracy Ann Cooley, of Winterport, Maine; his sister, Mary Louise Duncan, of Sun City, Arizona; his niece, Dona Williams, of Sonora, California; his nephew, Thomas Williams, of Lido Beach, New York; great-nephews Donald Edwin Williams and his family of Seacliff, New York and Thomas Jay Williams of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Richard was preceded in death by his parents, and wife of 64 years, Frances Saladin Cooley.
At his request, there will be no visitation or funeral service, but a celebration of his life will be held on June 27th from 4 to 7 PM at the Keeney Memorial Cultural Center in Wethersfield, Connecticut. Burial will occur in Indiana at a later date. Memorial contributions may be made to Operation Smile at www.operationsmile.org , or to a charity of their choice. Copher-Fesler-May Funeral Home assisted the family with arrangements, and online condolences may be made at www.copherfeslermay.com.