• 85 years old
  • Born on June 18, 1931 .
  • Passed away on February 24, 2017 .

For several years, Jack, or “Cos” as he was known by his fraternity buddies, used his well-worn canes to good avail.  They helped reduce the back pain caused by psoriatic arthritis, which Jack battled throughout his adult life, and allowed him to maneuver around, as well as giving him a way to gesture and point at all the objects, both natural and man-made, which stimulated his insatiable curiosity. He loved the mountains, having gone on many camping trips with his children in his younger years, and, equally, loved art galleries, where he would sit in his wheelchair for long periods staring at a painting. Enthusiasm was Jack’s trademark.

Posted by Russell Cosgrove on 24th February 2018
It's been a year since he left us, but a funny thing happened this week. The violet given us by his neighbor when he died, which I had been abusing and had lost all its flowers, started to grow a new bud. That has never happened for me before! So I'm getting some fertilizer and we'll see....
Posted by Jack Jorgenson on 7th July 2017
Cos and I were partners for 33 years. He was a fine lawyer and a brilliant person. I well and truly loved the man.
Posted by Russell Cosgrove on 25th June 2017
On the Shoulders of a Giant, a memorial poem. It is my place of power. I can't go there anymore, haven't been able to for years, but it's still there; the good thing about not believing in stuff is that it doesn't go away. And so I still ride on top of those shoulders and look down on the world knowing I am special and strong and smart. The only real difference is I don't scoff as much as I used too. I have more empathy for those who didn't start out so high. But just for this moment I'm going back to remember how it was up there back then. Ha! Look at them down there. They don't get how it is about learning and loving, about working and creating, about studying and beauty, about how if you combine them you can do special and amazing things…. I understand now that it is so scary, so hard to believe it's true, can seem like such a big risk to take…. But when you're up here that is not what you're thinking about. You are thinking about heading on up to where no one has ever been. You are just going after that beauty because it's shining so brightly and you really believe, you know that that is the way…. And so later when I climbed down and made my way alone, and found them all banging at me with their big sticks and mean attitudes, taking advantage of any mistake I might make, I didn't forget the way he had shown me. I just kept going after the beauty until they started to fall away, until their sticks couldn't reach me, until it was my job to help them. And so if there's one thing I learned from that man with the big shoulders way up high, my Dad: it's really true! You can reach the highest summit and conquer the hardest concept once you see, that it's all so beautiful…. Where did that glorious enthusiasm come from? I barely met my grandparents on the Cosgrove side, but it may have been in there somewhere. For my father it was always about his English mother, her grandfather the mayor of Bournemouth, the connection to the Russell family. But sometimes we emphasize the weaker link in attempting to make it stronger…and I wonder…. I wonder about the other side, which he never told me about, indeed barely knew about it seems. He didn't know about the two Croskery/Coskery/Crosgrove/Cosgrove brothers who emigrated from Northern Ireland in the early 1800s, and who are buried side by side in Westfield, NY; they have the same names, John and Robert! He didn't know about their offspring who fought through Gettysburg to Atlanta. He knew but didn't tell me about their other offspring, the three Cosgrove brothers who founded Green Giant company in Le Suer Minnesota, who lived there for generations in the Mayo house; and the burial site in Mound Cemetery, where lie many Cosgroves, his grandfather among them. The supposedly no good grandfather who left for Seattle with his wife, who worked in a hardware store, and died young. Apparently positive things were not said, and he never met him, but I will say this: the last record a month before his death finds him living with his wife in Seattle. That's good enough for me. And sometimes it is that weakest link that is salvaged, wherein the energy comes out fresh. And so maybe we should look to the mother, his grandmother, Mary O'Rourke, about whom I know nothing, except: she brought her two sons out of the ruins in Seattle, to Pasadena, where they went to college and…he remembers her living in a small house alone, to a ripe old age, the O'Rourke…. Ha! Sounds like another Irish! And so why didn't you tell me about the Irish, Dad? About the farmers? About Carson Cosgrove who built the Minnesota Valley Cannery, and died in a car accident, at 85? About Ward Cosgrove who took over and conceived of Little Sprout, and the Jolly Green Giant, and invited you to work there one summer? When I think of all the joking and bad singing, the constant Shakespeare refrains, the ebullience that lifted me onto those shoulder's and taught me to love…it just makes so much sense, the Jolly Green Blood. But then there is also the indefatigable logic. The set of all sets that contain themselves is not a set, and so it all falls apart. The cold logical structures that the simple minded would stand upon, they do not close, they are not consistent…. It's not so much that he taught me to think this way, as that he taught me to follow the beauty, all the way home. And I really don't know where that came from. Was it that tenuous link to the Russell's in England, to Bertrand even? Or to the Croskery's in Ireland, or to Carson? I doubt it. I think it came from the big man himself. The Jolly Green Genius who shuffled off this mortal coil with one final joke on the world, while others were having lunch. Bye Dad, and thanks for the shoulders; they are awesome high!
Posted by Elizabeth Ouren on 4th June 2017
We were fortunate to live next door to Jack for the last 9 years. He was so smart, funny, kind, and full of life. It was always a joy to talk to him. He always asked about the details of how my kids were doing. We will miss him very much.
Posted by Don Davis on 4th April 2017
Jack Cosgrove was a man whose knowledge, generosity and humor enriched all who knew him. I knew him as the owner, with his wife Alice, of the Mansion at #3 Altree Court in Atherton. In the late 60s I briefly met Jack and Alice at their house near Peninsula School. Among the people who frolicked after hours at that beautiful old school grounds with it's huge rope swing were Andy Breffitt, Gordon Seagraves and Timas Samuelson, Alice's daughter. After my sojourn on the East Coast selling art in Science Fiction conventions, I reconnected with Andy in October 1973 and he took me over to the Mansion where he was living. I met Jack and Alice there, and apparently made a good impression as I was offered a room on the Third Floor as someone else was then moving out. Over the next nine years I was to enjoy not only the founding of my art career there, I had the pleasure of many stimulating dinner discussions led by Jack. Politics and news featured prominently in his table talk, but occasionally one of his legal cases would be the subject of discussion, with some of us being asked to think like a juror on this or that aspect of the case. Jack wore a beard and reminded me of a thin version of the famous portrait of Henry VIII. Once to cater to known prejudices of a judge he shaved off the beard, showing steadfast concentration on doing whatever he could to win the case. His political savvy was only matched by his energy and drive. When President Nixon's 'enemies list' came to light Jack wrote him and asked to be placed on that list, that he pledged to do everything in his power to work against his political interests, and he cited some instances of Nixon's past bad behavior. A copy of his letter was pinned to a bulletin board downstairs.He was a Liberal Democrat in all its best connotations, always aware of the winds good and ill blowing across the land. In the years after the Mansion, we would occasionally talk of world events and politics, Jack always having insightful observations based on decades of attention. When arch conservative Supreme Court judge Scalia died last year I called to relay the news and that made his day, prompting him into a discussion of the 'Scalawags', political profiteers of the Reconstruction era. One was likely to come away from a conversation with Jack the richer for it in knowledge. He was generous not only with his wonderful home, but with the experiences he loved to share. A high point of my years there was a lengthy trip to Havasupi Canyon. Jack's children and their friends were there as was Andy and I, experiencing the red canyon walls, green trees, blue skies and vivid turquoise miniature fairyland waterfalls. His frequent trips across the world inspired me to travel, my 1980 Total Eclipse trip to India was my first such voyage. An aspect I knew of only peripherally was Jack's devotion to football. He attended games, including some big ticket events. He waged nagging battles with physical problems which were faced with courage and endurance. Jack was attentive to politics to the last. As the first series of scandals emerged from the Trump Administration he explained things like the Emoluments Clause to me. His political advice was to by default vote the Democratic ticket, and unless there is good reason to do otherwise I intend to follow his advice. I will always miss calling him up and getting his informed long view of the headlines. But his generosity and wisdom enriched my life in ways I shall always be grateful for, and his family has so much more to celebrate from their depth of sharing his life and wisdom.
Posted by Bob Cosgrove on 25th March 2017
Goodby my good brother. I shall always love you. I treasure the time we spent on our many adventures, great discussions and family time. You will be missed very much. Love, Bob
Posted by Judith Cosgrove on 22nd March 2017
This tribute is from Pete LaTourrette: "For the past two days, 'Mighty Zeus has fallen' has been running through my mind, and I wasn't quite sure why. But I just read Dick Stark's tribute online and realize that we actually did call Jack 'Zeus.' He was an amazing, fascinating guy and we will all miss him greatly."
Posted by Hugh Evans on 22nd March 2017
I met Jack when we both arrived at Webb School as Sophomores. We quickly became friends. Jack was a brilliant student. His inquiring mind led him to original thoughts -- thus his nickname, Zeus. We played basketball for Webb, and Zeus would dream up creative opportunities for the two of us to score; he called it "combo ball". Not surprisingly, we became fraternity brothers at Stanford, where he continued to pursue an imaginative education. After graduation, we were both drafted into the Army and stationed in Germany -- though not at the same location. We did get together in Berlin when it was a divided city. Throughout his life, Jack was cheerful through adversity. My thoughts are filled with memories of Jack, whose other Webb nickname was "the immortal Cos" -- and so he is.
Posted by Dick Stark on 16th March 2017
Dear Cos, wherever you are now I know that you are likely in charge. Just as you were in our Phi Kap days. You were athletic, a great volleyball player and I'm sure a great competitor in our challenge to win the overall sports trophy for fraternities. We called you "zeus" for the reason that you some how seemed to be above the rest of us. I thank you very much for taking the time and trouble several years ago to come visit Ome and me in Twain Harte. We enjoyed having you here in our little village. I expect to think of you often and I promise i will. Your old fraternity friend, Dick Stark
Posted by Patrick Bedwell on 16th March 2017
My deepest condolences to the Cosgrove clan over this sad news. Jack was quite a character, generous with both his opinions and his laughter. Dad always valued his opinion, and enjoyed the way his mind worked to find new ways of looking at an issue. Rest in peace, Jack.
Posted by Allan Bedwell on 14th March 2017
Jen, Russell, Chwinn and Judy, I'm so sorry to learn about Cos' passing. He was a brilliant guy and a live wire. Growing up, my father Mike always spoke about Cos and valued him as a dear friend and trusted counsel. Cos was a regular subject of conversation during evenings at my home. I admired Cos' quick wit. He was the life of the party and so fast with his wisecracks. Jen, I know he was a good man at his core as I got to know you in my late 20s. Your subtle wit, healthy approach to life, and well grounded perspective reflected well on your father. Thank you for sharing his life with us. Warmest regards, Allan
Posted by Lindy Faris on 14th March 2017
I knew Jack as "Jen's Dad" ever since meeting Jen in high school and forging a friendship that has continued for over 30 years. I always admired how Jen and her family would gather for weekly dinners at her dad's house where they engaged in countless intellectual discussions about current affairs. During our hikes together Jen and I would marvel at his exuberance for life, always up for a new adventure. Most of all, I admired how Jen's Dad put his intellectual prowess into action as a champion for civil rights, fighting even well into retirement for causes he believed in. I'm sure that in our many hikes to come, Jen and I will continue to honor her father by remembering what a good and inspiring man he was.
Posted by Judith Cosgrove on 13th March 2017
Jack Jorgenson gave me permission to quote him: "Of all the lawyers I have known over the years, he was the very best, smartest and focused. He was also a kind, humane and careful person and I loved the man."
Posted by Jeanette Cosgrove on 13th March 2017
Submitted for Sioeli Fakalata: "I've known Jack for almost 17 years and I will cherish each moment. I went to Nativity from 7th-8th grade which was a few blocks away from Jack's house so after school I would first head over to the Menlo Park library to complete homework and then walk over to Jack's house and hang with Jack until my mom came to fix supper and take me home. Jack and I talked about everything from politics to who we thought was going to win whatever sporting event was the hot topic at that particular time. My fondest memory that I will always cherish was watching the 2006 NCAA collegiate football national championship game between USC and Texas in the Rose Bowl. I was a senior in high school at the time and was cheering for Texas while Jack was cheering for USC since he himself is an avid PAC 10 (at the time) supporter, being a Stanford grad and Pasadena native. I can still recall all the yelling and jumping around with excitement from the excellent show of competitiveness displayed by both teams. It was an experience carved in my memory. I always valued Jack's constant words of wisdom and support with where I was in life. I will always remember Jack's generosity and his strength of life and joy. I'm grateful that Jack was able to meet and hang out with all three of my kids and meet my wife. Jack was not only a very dear friend to me by also a father figure. I will miss him tremendously but feel blessed to have the memories I do. Rest in love Jack from Sioeli, Krystin, Ryder, Mac and Poet !
Posted by Jeanette Cosgrove on 12th March 2017
Submitted for Eleanor Fakalata: "He is deeply missed. Goodbye my dearest Jack. Love from the Fakalatas. Sending my love you Jen and Russell." Eleanor knew Jack for 25 years as a personal assistant and devoted caregiver. She and her husband John lived at Jack's house and provided wonderful help and support during his last few years. Her son and daughters were also frequent visitors over the years.

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