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Robert H. Cooley III

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Robert H. Cooley III, 1997

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Robert Cooley's daughter-in-law Jennifer, son Robert IV, wife Ruby, and daughter Michele
Courtesy of Jame Feldman

 

Robert Cooley's daughter-in-law Jennifer, son Robert IV, wife Ruby, and daughter Michele
Courtesy of Jane Feldman

Dates alive: 
1939–1998
Family: 
Woodson
Residence (at time of interview): 
Midlothian, VA

Robert Cooley, attorney, judge, and magistrate, was the son of Ruth Golden and Robert H. Cooley II.  He graduated from Virginia Union University and Howard University Law School.  He spent eight years as an attorney in the U. S. Army, being awarded the Army Commendation Medal.  Of his army service in Europe he said, “ I was free…I was not a black person.  I was an American.”

His appointment as a federal magistrate for the Eastern District in 1976 made him, as he said, “the first black American to serve as a judge on the Federal District Court in Virginia’s history.”  Cooley greatly admired his ancestor Lewis Woodson (“my hero”) and passed on the Woodson family's emphasis on education to his children, who graduated from Thomas Jefferson's University of Virginia, to which Cooley was denied admission because of his race. 

 

 

Interview Information: 

6 Oct. 1995, Charlottesville, VA
Interviewee: Robert H. Cooley III

Excerpts: 
Ancestry: 
  • Thomas Woodson 1790–1879 Jemima Price 1783–1868
  •  
  • Lewis Woodson 1806–1878
  •  
  • James Woodson 
  •  
  • Robert H. Cooley III 1939–1998
Related People: 

Lewis Woodson  ancestor

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