by Buck Institute

The Buck Institute remembers Crawford Cooley 1926 – 2022

(Arthur) Crawford Cooley played a crucial role in the Buck’s history. He was an early supporter, certain of the Institute’s ultimate success during the rocky years before the Institute was formally established. Chair of our Board of Trustees when we opened our doors in 1999, Crawford was instrumental in hiring our first executive vice president, Carla Dingillo, and our founding president and CEO Dale Bredesen. Serving as board chair for three consecutive terms, he showed unfailing enthusiasm for our mission and the wishes expressed in the will of Mrs. Beryl Buck.  Crawford died on April 16th at his home on his family’s ranch, located just north of the Buck. He was 96 years old.

A fifth generation Californian, Crawford grew up in San Francisco and majored in economics at Stanford University.  He served in the U.S. Army Air Corps in World War II. After Stanford he took his first foray into research with a business management job at Chromatic Television Laboratories, an affiliate of Paramount Pictures that was involved in development of color television. He is best known for becoming a partner in the first venture capital partnership in California in 1959. After that pioneering effort, Crawford continued venture capital investing throughout his life.  His enthusiasm for new ventures was evident when he spoke at the Buck’s dedication ceremony in 1999: “Because this Institute is new we’ve been able to attract scientists and staff who are entrepreneurial, who seek and have found an exciting environment in which to work.”

Staff members who worked with Crawford remember him as being an adept, acutely intelligent leader who was fiercely protective of the Institute and loved being part of building a new organization. He is remembered for being down-to-earth (he drove a pick-up truck and wore chinos) even though he often donned a tuxedo for society events in San Francisco and the Peninsula.  He was generous with his financial support and also enjoyed smaller gestures. He nourished the Institute’s local deer population by digging up native ferns from his ranch to plant in the Institute’s front garden.

“Crawford Cooley is part of the DNA of the Buck,” said Buck President and CEO Eric Verdin. “His entrepreneurial aspirations for the Institute helped set us on the course we’re following today.  He was a true friend and we are grateful to have him as part of our legacy. He will be missed.” 

Crawford also had an extensive background in vineyard and ranch management. He managed approximately 21,000 acres of family vineyards and cattle-grazing properties in Marin, Sonoma, and Mendocino counties, including his great-great-grandfather’s Cloverdale vineyard. In addition to the Buck Institute, Crawford’s other nonprofit interests included Stanford, the Filoli Historic House and Garden, the Marin Agricultural Land Trust, and the Cloverdale Historical Society. 

He was married to Jess Porter Cooley for 70 years before she proceeded him in death. He is survived by three children, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Science is showing that while chronological aging is inevitable, biological aging is malleable. There's a part of it that you can fight, and we are getting closer and closer to winning that fight.

Eric Verdin, MD, Buck Institute President and CEO

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