Thomas “Tom” Cooley
Portola Mayor Tom Cooley succumbed after a valiant battle with cancer on March 7, 2023, peacefully at his home in Portola.
Tom was born on November 6, 1942, in Lansing, Michigan, to Eugene and Frances Cooley. He had two older sisters: Mary Lou (husband Don), and Pat (husband Earl). Mary Lou and her husband preceded Tom in death. Pat and Earl live in Texas.
He graduated from East Lansing High School in 1960, then attended Michigan State University until he transitioned to the University of Michigan where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. Tom went to work in their family-owned business, Michigan Supply Company where he first introduced them to new, computer technology, re-inventorying everything and making it available electronically. The company was instrumental in first bringing gas lights, then later electric lights to the Lansing area.
Tom became fully involved in both work and play in his then-hometown, joining the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, and board of directors for Michigan Millers Insurance, and snow skiing and water skiing. Tom was in partnership on business ventures including a video rental kiosk, Mr. Flix, a London based loudspeaker manufacturer, Red Acoustics, which he brought back to Lansing, and an option to buy an island in Lake Michigan for development. He also earned his pilot’s license and the couple flew frequently in a small plane to spend many days exploring.
He found that the family business wasn’t enough to occupy his exceptional energy, so he and Linda moved to Pleasanton, California, in 1997 where he developed MedNet, a billing services company. Tom would then fly back to Michigan once a month to balance a client’s books as well. After five years and looking toward retirement, the couple bought a lot at Gold Mountain and a house in Portola, while they planned construction. They so enjoyed the neighborhood and the people in town that they decided to stay in the little city where they immediately made new friends and became involved. Tom joined the Graeagle Lions, Lost Sierra Chamber of Commerce, and ran for Portola’s City Council. Tom and Linda found new pastimes hiking, and with their Jeep, exploring the hundreds of miles of back roads in the area.
You may not recognize Tom by name, but you probably have seen him clearing brush from West End Park, running chainsaw to reduce fuels near the River Walk and highway, clearing unwanted trees near the swimming pool. You’ve also probably seen his work as a graphics designer for White Sulphur Springs and designing the layout for High Sierra Animal Rescue calendar. Tom was the workhorse, designer, implementer, strategist, and volunteer for Portola, and county and state agencies on which he served for the people’s benefit. He was Mayor of Portola when he passed away, earning the respect and admiration of everyone who knew him. He was instrumental in the ongoing effort to reorganize the fire districts in eastern Plumas County into one efficient force, and made everyone’s job a little easier.
Tom leaves behind his wife and best friend Linda, children Jill Cooley, Jim Cooley (Jandy), Laurie Cooley (Jenny), Rachelle Hawkins (Mark), Dina Maneval, and six grandchildren.
Memorial services will be announced at a later time.