News of the College Feb. 2001

Trustee Ed Cooley dies

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Edward Hanes Cooley, one of the college’s major benefactors and a trustee since 1968, died on December 4 at age 78. He was a major contributor to the economic, cultural, and educational health of Oregon and the Northwest.

Cooley was owner and president of Hillsboro Aviation since 1992; he retired in 1990 as chairman and chief executive officer of Precision Castparts Corporation, where he served since 1957, and was chairman of the board from 1991 to 1994.




“Ed’s contributions to the Reed community and the greater Portland community will live on, but we will miss his quiet, sensible intelligence and sense of humor,” said Reed president Steven Koblik.

One of the state’s most influential business leaders, Cooley was committed to playing a leadership role in his broader community as well. His primary philanthropic interests were in higher education and services for at-risk youth. In addition to Reed, he was a major benefactor of the Oregon Graduate Institute of Science and Technology, where he was chairman of the board, as well as Self-Enhancement, Inc., a local educational nonprofit that serves inner-city children.



The Cooley name will live on at Reed in the Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery, which was named for the late son of Ed and Sue Cooley. The gallery was founded as part of a 1988 gift to Reed from the Cooleys and their good friends, John and Betty Gray.

Ed Cooley also did much to support Reed in ways that are not as visible. The Cooleys were instrumental in the funding of the Gray Campus Center and the Arthur F. Scott Laboratory of Chemistry. Their 1988 gift also created two faculty positions in art history and the Stephen Ostrow Distinguished Visitor Program.

“Since many of the leaders of the Pacific Northwest are graduates of Reed College, I believe that support of Reed is not only a public service but is action in the best interests of the region and nation,” he said in 1977.

His long association with Reed began in 1966, when he was named chairman of the Reed nuclear reactor committee and donated funds for the facility. After joining the board of trustees in 1968, he was appointed chairman of the board’s fund management group. During his time on the board, Cooley chaired the foundations campaign committee in 1982, was a member of the executive committee (1971-76, 1985-88, and 1998-present), and served on a 1979 committee to investigate student housing. In 1985 college president Paul Bragdon expressed his thanks to the Cooleys, writing that “you’ve been very helpful to the college, and very encouraging to me, in the effort to put this place on a proper foundation.”

Cooley was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on September 29, 1922. He graduated from Swarthmore College with a B.S. in mechanical engineering, and he earned an M.B.A. from the Harvard University Business School. He served in the U.S. Navy as a submarine construction and repair officer from 1943 to 1946.

Cooley first came to Portland in 1950 from Toledo, Ohio, where he worked for the Dana Corp. John Gray, Cooley’s friend and Harvard Business School classmate, hired Cooley as an assistant general manager for Oregon Saw Chain (later Omark Industries), where Gray was general manager. Cooley took charge of the in-house mechanical casting shop, which became a separate company named Precision Castparts in 1953. Cooley bought the company in 1957 and molded it into a leading international aircraft parts manufacturer, named to the Fortune 500 in 1992.

He was selected as business leader of the year in 1992 by the University of Oregon College of Business Administration, corporate executive of the year in 1986 by Oregon Business magazine, and marketing man of the year in 1976 by the Portland chapter of Sales and Marketing Executives International, and he was cited in Fortune magazine in 1970 for his management team’s recognition of blue- collar workers.

Cooley had served as director of the Oregon Historical Society, FEI Co., and the Oregon Business Council; and as a board member of the Oregon History Center and the Oregon Regional Primate Center. His past affiliations include directorships at First Interstate Bank, Nerco, Inc., Pope and Talbot, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; he also was a trustee and chairman of the Medical Re-search Foundation of Oregon. He and his wife, Sue, were honored as outstanding volunteer fund raisers in 1990 by the Oregon Society of Fund Raising Executives.

A memorial service was held December 16 in the Reed chapel. Survivors include his wife, Sue; his daughters, Susan Cooley-Gilliom and Caroline Browne; three grandchildren; and a brother, Dwight.



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