September 23, 2011
He skied Aspen Mountain at 3. He appeared in extreme skiing films in his 20s. He biked Europe in his 30s. And he never met a stranger. Robert “Bob” McGregor Coakley loved life and everyone and everything in it. He was a pal and an exuberant presence at every gathering of family and friends. They don’t make many Bob Coakleys. And the world is a poorer place without him.
Born in Marin County, he spent his early years hiking, biking and skiing when his family moved to Aspen, Colo. That period of outdoor discovery was to set his life’s direction. In 1971, Bob moved to Carmel Valley where he attended Carmel High School. Then, the magnetism of the mountains brought him to the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he graduated with a degree in recreational business.
An expert skier, Bob joined the professional ski patrol in Park City, Utah, and was the skiing double for actor James Spader in the 1991 film “True Colors.” That experience provided the impetus for Bob to make a career in outdoor reality films with both his own Wasatch Film Company, and as an actor/producer with Real Action Pictures of Canada. He produced segments for the critically-acclaimed PBS giant surf film “Condition Black,” acted in Jon Long’s film “Carving the White” and was involved in a variety of travel and extreme biking and skiing film productions.
In recent years, Bob has divided his time between his home in Mill Valley, Calif., his own mountain retreat in Big Sur and assisting his father with marketing the Carmel Valley Lodge.
He died where he loved to live – high atop a Big Sur mountain, the tragic victim of a fire.
Bob is survived by his mother Janice Wren of San Francisco, father Peter Coakley of Carmel Valley, sister Katharine Coakley Baker of Portland, Ore., and his brother Michael Coakley of Newport Beach, Calif.
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A celebration of Bob’s life will be held at the 13th Avenue Beach in Carmel, Calif., on Monday, Oct. 3. Friends are invited to gather starting at 4 p.m., with remembrances at sundown.