Charles Galligan (‘Chuck’) Cogan R.I.P.

Written by  //  December 15, 2017  //  Absent Friends  //  Comments Off on Charles Galligan (‘Chuck’) Cogan R.I.P.

Family and friends of Charles Galligan Cogan.

My Dad passed away peacefully in his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on the morning of 14 December 2017. He lived a remarkable life and had distinguished careers in intelligence and academia. He was within a few weeks of his 90th birthday, extremely fit both physically going to the gym every day and mentally in his writing and lectures.

Thank you so much for the heartfelt thoughts. My Mom, Susie Cogan, has been very strong and will be staying with us in Virginia for the holidays.

We are planning memorial services in Boston and Washington D.C. early next year and will let everyone know once we have the details.

I wanted to share the wonderful OBIT that my sister Abbie Perkins put together that tells a fascinating story of Chuck Cogan. To some, it may seem like fiction. To others, they know the facts. For me, he was as real as can be, more than just a father, he was a like a brother, best buddy, and my hero. Rover Boys forever and a life time of memories!


11 January 1928 – 14 December 2017

Gentleman Spy, Scholar Died peacefully of natural causes in his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on 14 December 2017, one month away from his 90th birthday.

Charles “Chuck” Cogan was a dedicated professional with a life-long interest in international affairs. He was as focused on his work and his research as ever, always with an eye on his next project. He spent the first decades of his professional life with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). From 1954 to 1991, he had overseas tours in Asia, Africa and Europe; he was Chief of the Near East–South Asia Division in the Directorate of Operations from 1979-84, and his last overseas posting was in Paris from 1984-89. He transited from his agency life to his writing/academic career undertaking a Harvard Research Fellowship in the Intelligence and Policy Project, a joint and unclassified undertaking between the CIA and the Kennedy School. Afterward, he received a doctorate of Public Administration at Harvard, and then went on to spend the next 25 years as an academic and writer.

Dr. Cogan was born in Melrose Massachusetts, and was one of three children born to Mary and John Cogan. He attended Harvard University, graduating Magna Cum Laude with a BA in History in 1949. Directly after University he tried his hand at journalism, working on the Hartford Courant and for Time Inc, before joining the US Army Signal Corps during the Korean War where he was deployed to the Korean Peninsula. During this period, he married his first wife, Nancy Allison Catheron, in 1950 and had two daughters, Lissa and Abbie.

After the Army, he began his long career in the CIA. His first overseas posting was New Delhi, India, where apart from learning to play polo (he had a wooden practice pony built on the roof of his flat in Sundenagar so he could practice his mallet techniques, complete with net to prevent passers-by from being beaned), honing his professional skills and working on Nehru’s policy of equidistance from the superpowers, he established his life-long love of writing poetry.

As with most CIA case officers, overseas assignments were complemented by tours in Washington D.C., it was there he met his second wife and life-long companion, Susan Abigail Yoder, who was also working with the Agency. They were posted to the Congo, coinciding with the Congo Crisis. His son Geoffrey David was born in there in 1964. The next posting was Khartoum, Sudan, coinciding with the Sudan’s return to civilian rule. This also led into the six-day war in 1967, during which he and many other foreign nationals were placed under city arrest for six months.

His next tour was back to Washington, D.C., where he attended the National War College, and earned a Master of Science and International Relations in 1971.

Dr. Cogan’s final posting in Africa was Rabat, Morocco. As a Francophile since university, the posting gave him the opportunity to work in his favorite second language. There were two attempted coup d’états and considerable stress during his tenure. Nonetheless, he found Morocco fascinating because of its traditional culture and a bon-vivant expat community.

His next posting took him to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, in a time bracketed by Black September in 1970 and the ongoing Lebanese Civil war, which saw much of that country’s economy transfer to Jordan, and all the associated complexities of the region.

In 1979, he was back to Washington D.C., this time as the Chief of Near East-South Asia Division in the Directorate of Operations, which brought him to the fore of the Iran hostage crisis and the failed hostage rescue attempt. Also during this time, he was involved in the CIA program that was created to arm and finance the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan in their attempt to oust the USSR from their country.

His last overseas posting was in Paris from 1984 to 1989. He and Susie settled quickly into their life in Paris. This gave him the satisfying opportunity to again use French professionally and to work with the French government. The French government in 2007 made him an Officer in the French Order of the Légion d’honneur.

Dr. Cogan published eight books in English and French, for the most part delving into the Franco/American relationship and series of essays, La République de Dieu (on the idea of God; on evangelism; on Islamic fundamentalism; followed by empirical chapters analyzing a number of conflicts between the Muslim and non-Muslim world: Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Israel/Palestine). He blogged extensively for the Huffington Post, contributed to a variety of publications and continued to write poetry.

At Harvard, he was a visiting scholar at the John M. Olin Center for Strategic Studies, and an Associate at the Charles Warren Center, the JFK School of Government, the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and an Affiliate at the Center for European Affairs.

In addition to the French Légion d’honneur, Dr. Cogan was a recipient of the Intelligence Medal of Merit (1968, 1981), a Commandeur du Ouissam Alaouite, Morocco (1983), a recipient of the Distinguished Intelligence Medal (1989), an Officer in the French Order of Academic Palms (2003) and was awarded a Medal of the Prix Ernest Lémonon of the Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques (ASMP) of the Institut de France, for the book “Diplomatie à la française” (2006).

He is survived by his wife, Susan Yoder Cogan, son Geoffrey (children Dylan and Jason), daughters Lissa (children, Michaela and Kaelinn, and great-grandchildren, Denice, Napoleon, Ezra and Josie) and Abbie (Evelyn), and his brother John F. Cogan Jr.

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