John Cogley, an EWU retiree who was a professor in therapeutic recreation while helping countless students earn their degrees and pursue their careers, died on Dec. 31, 2022. He was 77.
Cogley arrived at Eastern in 1978 and helped develop the therapeutic recreation program at Eastern. From 2005 until his retirement in 2011 he served as chair of the Department of Physical Education, Health and Recreation (PEHR), which was renamed the Department of Wellness and Movement Sciences (WAMS) in 2019.
“He made our department what it is today,” says Alan Coelho, professor of exercise science at EWU and a former colleague. “He had high standards and held his students and faculty to those standards.”
Many of those students fondly remember Cogley have reached out to Coelho to share memories of a man they remember as gregarious and compassionate.
“He could remember his students’ names even 40 years later,” recalls former student Diana Thew. “He had a presence about him, you always knew when John was around. A great memory back in the early 80’s, was of John teaching with one foot up on a chair, chewing tobacco, and telling hilarious stories of when he was practicing therapeutic recreation.”
Former student Pam Young, who credits Cogley with incredible support when she transferred to EWU as a junior while pregnant, recalls his vivid smile and infectious laugh. She also remembers the benevolence for each student he was mentoring.
“Because of the kindness, grace, encouragement and support given by Dr. Cogley, I graduated on time,” Young said, adding that even after graduation Cogley’s assistance meant the world to her, as “it catapulted my professional experience and confidence.”
Cogley’s 33 years of service helped launch the careers of countless professionals across the country. H was also a contributor to the profession as a whole – providing input and writing questions for the national certification exam used by colleges nationwide.
In addition to his academic and professional contributions, Cogley also assisted with programming for the adapted ski program on Mt. Spokane. He and his wife, Patty, were also instrumental in creating the reading garden — and accompanying statues — located outside EWU’s One Room School House.
While he put family first, Coelho says Cogley cared deeply for his students and enjoyed time with colleagues who joined him to hunt, fish, boat, lift weights and even do power lifting competitions.
The family plans to have a celebration of life at a future date.