Eugene 'Gene' Cooley

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Eugene “Gene” Charles Cooley died peacefully at home, surrounded by his loving family, on Monday, March 30, 2020, two days after celebrating his 96th birthday.

Gene was born March 28, 1924, in Wyalusing Township, to Roxa O. (Clark) and Elgie C. Cooley. The youngest of six children on the family farm, he attended a one-room school in Brodtville, which required walking two and a half miles each way. He graduated from Bagley High School, where he was active in baseball and basketball, in 1942. He continued playing in summer leagues into his 50s. 

In the summer of 1943, Gene was drafted into the U.S. Navy, where he proudly served until 1946, in the South Pacific, including the occupation forces in Japan. Gene was a charter member of the Bagley American Legion Post 482, and a member of the Gilbertson-Pitzer-Radley VFW Post 10393 in Boscobel, serving actively as a lifetime member of both posts. Gene could still recite his serial number from memory until the day he passed away.

Upon his return home from his military service, Gene began working at Walz Lumber Yard in Bagley, beginning his long career in the lumber business. After attending a short course at UW-Madison, he took over management at Walz Lumber in Woodman, and then became co-owner, and manager, of Boscobel Lumber. After “retiring,” Gene became an associate of Kendall Funeral Service in Boscobel, and enjoyed 18 years of employment with the Kendall family. He enjoyed both careers, and treasured the friendships he made along the way.

On a cold winter day, Feb. 9, 1948, Gene married Mary Lu Wood at the Mt. Hope Methodist Church. The couple celebrated their 72nd wedding anniversary at the same church, exchanging vow renewals, surrounded by family and friends. Together, they had two children, Janean Kay (Cooley) Miller, and Roger Charles Cooley. Gene and Mary Lu moved to Woodman in 1950, where Gene served his community on the village board, Grant County Board, and was a longtime member of the Boscobel Fire Board. 

Gene liked to spend his time playing softball, fishing, hunting, golfing and boating. He was an avid University of Wisconsin sports fan, and enjoyed attending Badger football games after tailgating with a special group of friends. Gene also enjoyed breakfast, almost daily, with a treasured group of people from his community. Most of all, he loved to go out dancing with Mary Lu. 

Gene is survived by his wife, Mary Lu; a son, Roger (Sharon) of Austin, Texas; a son-in law, Michael Miller of Woodman; four grandchildren, Melissa Miller (Mendim) Tairi of Prairie du Chien, Sara Cooley (Steve) Broschart of Seattle, Wash.; Eric (Katie) Cooley of Avondale, Pa.; and Todd (Tanya) Miller of Woodman; eight great-grandchildren, Kayla Rupp and Ella Smith; Tyler, Tatum, Taryn and Tyson Miller; Harper and Brooks Cooley; and one expected to make an arrival in June; beloved in-laws, Mary Jane Cooley, Caroline (Gerald) Wood, Gary Wood, Robert (Sharon) Wood, Sandra (Bernard) Knesting, Allen (Janet) Wood; and several nieces, nephews, and friends.

Gene was preceded in death by his beloved daughter, Janean Miller in 2006; parents, Roxa and Elgie Cooley; brothers Donald, Allen, Cecil, and Keenan; a sister, Leota (Cota); a brother-in-law, Gerald Wood; and parents-in-law Sam and Berniece Wood.

Special family friends Deanna Shimpach and Noreen Clark will serve as honorary pall bearers, along with Gene’s grandchildren.

Due to the COVID-19 public health precautions, immediate services arranged by Kendall Funeral Service will remain private. A public celebration of Gene’s life will be announced at a later date. Please feel free, at this time, to send memorials, cards, letters, and words of comfort to Mary Lu Cooley, 7384 Hwy. 133 W, Boscobel, WI 53805. Online condolences can be sent to

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