June 22, 1945 – Jan. 6, 2021
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. 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 the lots of time at the beach and visits to Tijuana. During high school Vikki was part of the “animal” crowd that always skipped Fridays, and made regular booze runs across the border. She hated P.E. with a passion. She always got straight As.
Vikki married her first husband, David Eaton Young, just after graduating from Coronado High, and they had two childrenrolyn 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. She used to tell a story about transforming a remote patch of California sand into a desert oasis for a grand Arabian Nights theme party, with huge colorful tents, gold colored sand, an artificial pond and visiting elephants. The afternoon was hot, the elephants drank the pond, the guests were miserable… but it made one great story. She was always a great storyteller.
Vikki was a confirmed Coronadoan, having stated that there was nowhere else on Earth she would rather live. However, 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 the Victorian house at 1337 Lincoln Street in a realtor’s window. It was love at first sight and she bought the house that very same day, re-locating from southern 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, with more than 200 credits across California. She occasionally appeared onstage, but preferred to design sets and costumes as well as direct and produce well-attended and often sold out shows. As with her other jobs, she would step in to fill whatever role was needed. Vikki spent 20 years volunteering at the Coronado Playhouse spanning the tenures of Artistic Directors Bill Bruce and Tom McCorry. Work at the Playhouse was a family endeavor, with both her children and her mother volunteering on many of the productions there. The tradition extended back to Vikki’s grandmother, Isabella Smith Kennett, who helped found the theater in 1946.
After moving to Ferndale, Vikki soon began volunteering at the Ferndale Repertory Theater. She served as the Theater’s Business Manager for a decade during the tenure of Artistic Director Marilyn McCormick. During that time she wrote original scripts and directed the annual holiday matinees for schools, in addition to working on mainstage productions. Together with Marilyn, Vikki initiated the Fourth of July parades, patriotic shows and picnics held in Ferndale for many years.
On October 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. Bob to Vikki: “I found an Angel quite by chance. I’ve called her my best friend… Didn’t realize that we could dance, A tango that might blend, Some terpsichore, a rhapsody, a song, a lyric line, To soothe my soul through thin and thick, And transcend the test of time.”
Vikki was many things, but 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. She was the newsletter editor for the NORBAG Book Arts Group for many years and was active with the local Miniatures group. Every year from 1987 to 2018, she worked with her daughter Carolyn, and friends Dorothy Swendeman and Terri Tinkham, to create crazy, original, limited edition calendars. For her son-in-law Tom, she created bizarre “keepsake” Christmas gifts made of items from her “dead collection” and barely identifiable objects from the depths of the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator.
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 in her head, or pondering the 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 Jones and son-in-law Tom of Bayside, and son Joe, grand-daughter Natalia, and daughter-in-law Anna, of Montrose, as well as her brothers Steve Cooley of Auburn and Jim Cooley of San Jose.
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.
The obituary above was submitted on behalf of Vikki Young’s loved ones. The Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here.