Fred Cooley

First post: Mar 7, 2021 Latest post: Aug 13, 2021
Frederick Boyden Cooley passed away peacefully in his Buffalo home on Tuesday April 6, 2021 at the age of 82 while listening to music with Val, the light of his life and wife of 56 years. He spent one month in hospice care after struggling through the winter with multiple medical issues irrevocably complicated by COVID-19. 

Fred was born on February 24, 1939 in Buffalo to Robert Adsit and Elizabeth (Westcott) Cooley. After starting his academic career at Nichols School and Albany Academy, he graduated from The Lawrenceville School in 1957, and received his B.A. in History from Harvard College in 1961. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve from 1961 to 1966.

He often described his crashing of the coming out party of one Valerie Ann Comstock as the best thing that ever happened to him, much to the lasting chagrin of her father. (In fact, Fred’s mother had called Val’s mother in advance to ensure approval, but per family tradition one should “never spoil the story for the sake of the truth!”) Fred and Val were married on September 4, 1964 at Westminster Presbyterian Church. They returned to Cambridge where Fred received his MBA from Harvard Business School in 1965.

After brief stints as a salesman and software entrepreneur in Iowa and Kentucky, and the birth of three children, the family returned to Buffalo in 1976, where Fred discovered his true calling and received his PhD in Clinical Psychology from SUNY Buffalo in 1981.

Fred’s compassion and loving advice left lasting impressions on friends, family, and everyone he encountered. His constant jokes kept everyone going. He had boundless energy, insatiable curiosity, and a passion for music; especially jam sessions with banjos and a tambourine. His love of learning was lifelong. In retirement he mastered precision woodworking to build boats at the Buffalo Maritime Center and studied watercolor to paint portraits and landscapes. He sailed every chance he got (lordy, there are stories) while studying nautical charts, cloud formations and instrumentation in pursuit of a captain’s license.

Fred found ways to help just about everyone he met. In addition to serving as an Elder at Westminster, he had a longstanding commitment to the Westminster Economic Development Initiative, mentored formerly incarcerated people, and donated his counseling services to the Jericho Road Community Health Center.

In addition to his wife Valerie, he is survived by their children Sarah (Patrick) Cooleybeck, Robert (Sarah) Cooley, and Katrina (Jeffrey) Weller; grandchildren Anna & Morgen Cooleybeck, Linnea Cooley, Emma & Adam Weller; brother, Benedict (Diane) Cooley, and sister, Rebecca (Roland) Etcheverry. He was preceded in death by his parents and sister, Elizabeth (Maurice) Pinto.

Fred will be honored in a celebration of life on August 14th at Westminster Church. In lieu of flowers, donations in Fred’s name can be sent to Jericho Road ( ( or Westminster Presbyterian Church (