Article in Country Almanac

Shared on 28th March 2017

John Russell-Cotes Cosgrove, who served as Menlo Park's city attorney from 1985 to 1993, died on Feb. 24 after a brief illness.  He was 85.

Mr. Cosgrove, known by most as "Cos", handled the city's lawsutis even before he became the city attorney, and, according to his longtime law partner, Jack Jorgenson, never lost a case in 30 years.  "He was a genius," Mr. Jorgenson said.  "He was a superb lawyer.  He had the ability to focus."  While Mr. Cosgrove did settle a few lawsuits, he never lost a sae at trial, Mr. Jorgenson said.  "He was brilliant," he said. 

Mr. Cosgrove's advice also at times kept Menlo Park from actions it might have regretted, Mr. Jorgenson said.  "He was a thinker," he said. "He would take the time to analyze and understand what was going on."

Mr. Cosgrove was a strong supporter of the successful effort to extend the vote to 18-year-olds with the passage of the 26th amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1971.  He later represented ex-felons in their effort to regain voting rights.

Mr. Cosgrove was born and raised in Pasadena, California.  He majored in political science at Stanford University, which is where his fraternity brothers gave him the nickname, "Cos."  He enjoyed intramural sports, especially volley ball.  Mr. Cosgrove was drafted into the Army immediately after graduation in 1953, and served for 21 months, stationed half that time in Germany.  

In 1956, Mr Cosgrove married Stanford classmate Judy McDaniel.  they had two children, Russell and Jeanette.  Although they divorced and Mr. Cosgrove married Alice Samuelsen, he reconnected with Judy Cosgrove in his later years and they often dined together.

He graduated first in his class from Stanford Law School in 1959.

Mr. Cosgrove loved nature, especially backpacking in the high Sierra, and traveled extensively with various family members including his children and his brother Bob Cosgrove.  In his later years, he enjoyed reading, history, a little travel, and spending time with his children, his grandsons Kevin and Brendan, his first wife Judy, and friends.''He is survived by daughter Jeanette cosgrove of San Carlos; son Russell Cosgrove and wife Chwinn of San Carlos; two grandsons; ex-wife Judy Cosgrove, of Redwood City, and brother Bob Cosgrove, of Oregon.  

HE shared his home with John and Eleanor Fakalata, who family members said were very devoted and helpful to him.

No public services are planned, but a memorial website,, has been set up to share rememberances and photos. 

Sir Merton

Shared on 12th March 2017

Please refer to a Google search for Sir Merton Russell-Cotes...

John Russell-Cotes Cosgrove

Shared on 6th March 2017

June 18, 1931 - February 24, 2017

Jack was a descendant of British aristocracy through his mother, a native of Bournemouth, England until she married his father and moved to Pasadena, California. There, along with his younger brother, Bob, Jack attended public schools until high school, when he was sent to a private boarding school called Webb School. His career as a baseball pitcher was Jack’s proudest achievement there, although he was also an excellent student. In 1949 he began his freshman year at Stanford, graduating in 1953.

Health issues began for Jack as early as basic training in the Army, where he was drafted after college. These took the form of severe headaches which occurred as a result of using his reading glasses for hours at a time. The story was that he was so bored in the infantry that he sat up in his tent and read during the night. After his 21 months in the Army, Jack was accepted to Harvard Law School but was forced to withdraw for health reasons. In 1956 he married Judy McDaniel and immediately started Stanford Law School. Judy read his law books to him so he was able to pursue his studies, and achieved the 3rd highest grade at the end of his first year, without having read any of his own law books. He gradually started reading during his second year and graduated first in his class in 1959. In law school Jack established a pattern of intense concentration, in spite of issues with eye tension and headaches, which allowed him to maintain a career in the practice of law.

Jack Jorgenson, of Menlo Park, took Jack on as a partner in 1960, and they practiced together for many years. Eventually Jack Cosgrove took over from Jack Jorgenson as City Attorney for Menlo Park. Meanwhile he had two children with Judy: Russell and Jeanette. Jack and Judy were divorced in 1969, and he remarried Alice Samuelson, acquiring two stepdaughters, Timas and Amanda. They divorced after 15 years and gradually Jack reestablished his friendship with Judy, which continued until his death in 2017. Meanwhile Russell had two sons with his wife, Chwinn: Kevin and Brendan. Jack and Judy babysat together, and this tradition evolved into a weekly family gathering which usually included the whole family. The last dinner was less than two weeks before he died.

Eleanor Fakalata and her family had been caregivers for Jack for decades, until they finally moved into his home and cared for him devotedly during his last few years of life. Their presence greatly improved Jack’s quality of life during those years.

Jack took on two important projects in addition to his law practice: The campaign for the 18-year-old vote, and restoration of voting rights for ex-felons who had served their time. As we know, the first was successful. 

Jack filed amicus curiae briefs with the U. S. Supreme Court in Oregon v. Mitchell, 1970, representing Citizens for Lowering the Voting Age et al. The 26th Amendment was passed the following year. Restoration of voting rights is still prohibited in some states.