Virginia Isabella Cooley was born in Coronado to Mildred Frances Kennett and James Siggins Cooley, an officer in the U.S. Navy. Though they were posted to multiple states over the years, they always returned to Coronado, occupying at least eight different houses over the years. Early on she started using the name Vic, based on her initials, and at some point this turned into her alternate spelling of Vikki.
Growing up in Coronado meant lots of time at the beach and visits to Tijuana. In high school Vikki was part of the “animal” crowd that always skipped Fridays and made booze runs across the border. She hated P.E. with a passion and always got straight As.
Vikki married her first husband, David Eaton Young, just after graduating from Coronado High, and they had two children, Carolyn and Joe. Dave was killed in Mexico in 1975, leaving Vikki to lead the family.
Vikki never had any specific vocation. She had many jobs, but no career. Wherever she was hired, she would end up filling whatever gaps were needed to make a place better. One of her longest stints began with tour-guiding for Safaris and Tours of San Diego. There she ended up managing huge events for thousands of people at venues across the country.
On a trip to California’s North Coast to visit her daughter in 1995, Vikki visited the town of Ferndale and saw a photograph of a Victorian house in a realtor’s window and bought the house that very same day, re-locating to northern California.
Always eager to help, Vikki became a surrogate mom to her grand-daughter Natalia for a few months, while Vikki’s son Joe was balancing being a single parent and completing his PhD at the University of Chicago.
Vikki had a life-long love affair with live theatre. She occasionally appeared onstage, but preferred to design sets and costumes as well as direct and produce well-attended and often sold out shows. She stepped in to fill whatever role was needed. Vikki spent 20 years volunteering at the Coronado Playhouse. Work at the Playhouse was a family endeavor, with both her children and her mother volunteering. The tradition extended back to Vikki’s grandmother, Isabella Smith Kennett, who helped found the theater in 1946.
After moving to Ferndale, Vikki volunteered at the Ferndale Repertory Theater as the theater’s business manager during the tenure of Artistic Director Marilyn McCormick. She wrote more than two dozen original scripts. Together with Marilyn, Vikki initiated the Fourth of July parades, patriotic shows and picnics held in Ferndale for many years. Vikki and Marilyn were an amazing partnership and the fruits of their labors entertained countless thousands.
On Oct. 25, 1997, Vikki married her third husband, Robert Dwain Clark, in a ceremony at the Victorian Inn in Ferndale. They did it their own way, arriving by horse carriage and writing their own vows.
Vikki was above all, an artist. She was a fine draftsman, a witty writer, and a clever creator, skilled with tools ranging from sewing machine to jigsaw.
Vikki was never bored. Even in her later years, when physical limitations made it impossible to do the things she loved, she could always amuse herself by playing word games, or pondering art on the walls, or just enjoying the company of her cats. She needed a lot of help during the last few years, and she accepted it with grace.
Vikki is survived by her husband of more than 23 years, Robert Clark, of Ferndale; her daughter Carolyn (Tom) Jones of Bayside, California, and son Joe (Anna) of Montrose, California; her grand-daughter Natalia; her brothers Steve Cooley of Auburn, California and Jim Cooley of San Jose, California.
No memorial service is planned. If you would like to honor Vikki, reach out to family and friends, raise a toast, and share a good story. She would have liked that.