Sue Davison Cooley

Mar. 31, 1923 - Feb. 18, 2017

Sue Davison Cooley passed away peacefully at her Bainbridge Island, Washington home on February 18 at the age of 93.

Sue was born on March 31, 1923 to Waldo and Marguerite Davison in Brazil where her father worked for the YMCA. When six, her family moved back to the United States, settling in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. She attended Wilson College and graduated from Swarthmore College in 1944 with a degree in psychology and married Edward Cooley, also from Swarthmore, in 1944. Sue and Edward moved to Portland, Oregon in 1950. They raised three children, Susan, Douglas and Caroline. In later years, she and Edward established a second home on Maui. After her husband’s death in year 2000, Sue moved to Bainbridge Island, Washington, home of her daughter Caroline, and spent winters on Maui.

Sue loved and cared deeply for her family and her many friends. She was interested in people and impacted many quietly and many times individually. She was curious about the world, always eager to learn, read extensively, enjoyed travel, and pursued her passions which included art, education, and the outdoors, especially gardening. She grieved the ultimate loss of two of her adult children and the death of her husband with grace and dignity.

Many of Sue’s ancestors were artisans who valued working with their hands and Sue followed that tradition. She began painting as a child and painting remained a passion for her entire life. She worked for a ceramic artist as a young woman and volunteered at the Ceramic Studio in Portland. She maintained an active interest in the arts and her painting throughout her life. She served on the Board of the Portland Art Museum, established the Douglas F. Cooley Gallery at Reed College, helped fund the Bainbridge Artisans Resource Network (BARN) on Bainbridge Island, and supported many artists in the northwest and Maui.

She strongly supported education. She was a champion for Self Enhancement Inc, an organization supporting and encouraging underprivileged children in Portland, as well and served on the Board of the Boys and Girls Aid Society. She donated her home in Portland to Lewis and Clark College which now serves as the residence of the college president. She established the Marguerite Foundation to provide affordable housing for teachers on Bainbridge Island, and was instrumental in constructing a much-needed football stadium for Lahainaluna High School on Maui.

Her final project was the development and donation of Red Pine Park to the Bainbridge Island community.

Sue is preceded in death by her parents, Waldo and Marguerite Davison, brothers, Charles and Carter, her husband, Edward Cooley, her daughter, Susan Cooley-Gilliom, and her son, Douglas Cooley.

She is survived by her brother, John Alden Davison (Jane), daughter, Caroline Browne (David), son-in-law, Robert Gilliom (Susan), three grandchildren, Brian Cooley-Gilliom (Susan and Robert), Emily Browne and Laura Browne Winters (Travis), and two great-grandchildren, Ellsie and Finley Winters (Laura and Travis), and many nieces and nephews.

A celebration of her life will be held at Red Pine Park, Bainbridge Island, on May 27, 2017, 11-1pm. Remembrances may be made online at In lieu of flowers, Sue would be honored by a donation to Bainbridge Artist Resources Network (BARN), Self Enhancement Institute in Portland, or Lahainaluna High School on Maui.

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