March 12, 1943 — November 19, 2018
Rob Cooley, beloved husband, father and grandfather, passed away on November 19, 2018, at home and surrounded by family, after several years with dementia and Parkinson’s.
Robert Ferguson Cooley was born in 1943 in Bogota, Colombia, where the family spent two years as his dad supervised the construction of a factory for his industrialist father-in-law.
The family subsequently moved to the McKenzie River where Rob’s parents built a house next to the river. Rob’s life-long passion for rivers and rafting developed on the McKenzie, where his family lived until moving to Palo Alto in his middle school years.
Rob received his bachelor’s degree from Pomona College in California and his Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Oregon.
He and Ingrid married in 1979, and that year he started a whitewater rafting business called Oregon River Expeditions, later renamed Cooley River Expeditions. He primarily worked with teenagers, teaching them how to row their own rafts. Family summers were spent on the river.
Ingrid often rowed a baggage boat with the youngest child in a shaded “baby box.” As each child grew older, they learned how to row in Rob’s lead boat, before moving on to their own little raft and eventually becoming a river guide as they grew older. Numerous family-and-friends river trips also brought many together for fun over the years.
As a psychologist, Rob worked with children, adolescents and families.
When not rafting, he enjoyed hiking, cross-country skiing, and generally being in the outdoors. In 1988 he decided to combine his passions and started the Catherine Freer Wilderness Therapy Expeditions for adolescents, an outdoor therapy program. The program was named for his dear friend Catherine, a world-class mountain climber.
The Freer Program became a highly-regarded outdoor treatment program for adolescents. In 2014, Rob was awarded the highest recognition given by the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Industry Council - the Eagle award - with special recognition for his pioneering work in outcome research, which is now standard practice.
Another passion of Rob’s was helping struggling local families. Together, he and Ingrid worked for 35 years helping families with children at risk for out-of-home placement and other issues. This work was done under contract primarily with Child Welfare and covered Linn and Benton counties. They both greatly enjoyed working with the clients as well as supervising a dedicated team of outreach workers. This program continues today as Intensive Family Services. Over the years, he started and ran several other innovative social service and counseling programs and also had a private counseling practice.
Rob was a visionary with tremendous energy, determination and love for humankind. He also loved the outdoors and was most comfortable there. His heart was in Oregon. He and Ingrid raised their four children in North Albany where they built a house reflecting Rob’s love of the outdoors.
Rob was actively involved with the lives of his four children, Sonia, Arielle, Louise and Bjorn. In fact, when Louise graduated from high school, the school created a “Parent of the Year” award to bestow on Rob and Ingrid.
Much traveling at home and abroad was part of his life. Ingrid is from Denmark and the family often traveled there. The close ties to the family in Denmark continue.
Rob is survived by Ingrid; by his four children, their spouses and partners; and five grandchildren; as well as Rob’s two sisters.
A memorial service will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday December 15 at the United Presbyterian Church in Albany, 330 SW 5th Ave, 97321. After the service, please join us for lunch and a gathering to share memories at Rob and Ingrid’s home in North Albany.
For those wishing to make a gift in Rob’s memory, donations may be made to Pacific Rivers Council (pacificrivers.org), McKenzie River Trust (mckenzieriver.org), or Jackson Street Youth Services, serving youth in crisis in Corvallis and Albany (jsysi.org).
Online condolences for the family may be posted at www.fisherfuneralhome.com.