Betsy McGregor Cooley, a Washington artist who served as executive director of the Citizens Association of Georgetown from 2002 until retiring in 2016, died peacefully at her home on April 25. She was 73. The cause was brain cancer.
Her Georgetown friends and colleagues are devastated. For many, her positivity, creativity, caring and leadership made a lasting impression — and lifelong friendships. They will have a chance to gather and say farewell in June.
Cooley was born in Indiana, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Jane and Paul McGregor. She graduated from Chatham College in 1966, after which she worked at the Peace Corps central office in Washington, D.C. In 1968, she taught English at Thammasat University in Bangkok, Thailand, and returned home to earn a master’s degree in counseling at the University of Maryland in 1971.
Cooley helped launch the Federal Women’s Program for the Civil Service Commission in the early 1970s. She continued her work on women’s issues with Wider Opportunities for Women, a nonprofit organization. In 1982, she established a fabric design business, Brushworks, creating tabletop linens for high-end boutiques throughout the United States.
In 2002, Cooley became executive director of the Citizens Association of Georgetown, expanding the scope of the organization’s events and initiatives.
Cooley was a skilled artist and exhibited her plein-air works at the Yellow Barn Studio and Gallery in Glen Echo, Maryland.
She is survived by two daughters, Alison Hall Cooley of Easton, Maryland, and Meredith McGregor Cooley, of Exeter, New Hampshire, and three grandchildren, Finley Simons, Gustav Mertz and Giselle (Gigi) Mertz. She is also survived by her sisters, Judy McGregor Bollinger of Alexandria, Virginia, and Naples, Florida, and Kathryn McGregor of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her marriage to Stephen Cooley ended in divorce.
A memorial celebration of Cooley’s life will be held 2 p.m., June 23, at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Georgetown.
The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to the Betsy McGregor Cooley ’66 Memorial Scholarship Fund, Office of Advancement, Chatham University, Woodland Road, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15232.