ALLEN COUNTY BIOGRAPHIES

 

 

Contributed by Bruce Cochran and may not be linked to any other site without the written consent of Mr. Cochran. Contact: Bruce.Cochran@hbpus.haldex.com

 

 

Clarence LeRoy "Bud" Cochran

1922 1999

 

 

 

Clarence LeRoy COCHRAN, was born on January 23, 1922 in his father's house

at 327 E. Brooker in Marceline, Missouri. While growing up, his Mother, Ida

Florence LAW Cochran, called him, "Buddie" and his Dad, James Sylvester

COCHRAN, called him, "Bud". Formally his father called him LeRoy as he did

in his mother's obituary when he was only 13.

 

Dad's early life in Marceline was full of adventures. With his four

brothers, Herb, Sherm, Bob, and Fred and three sisters, Mabel, Gladys, and

Peggy, they were always doing something ornery. Like "borrowing"

watermelons from the neighbor's melon patch, or whittling on a telephone or

an electric pole with their pocketknives until it fell over. Whittling on

electric poles is especially interesting because later in life, Dad put up

electric poles for a living. I could never understand why Dad would give my

brother and me a whippen' years later for just shooting out a street light

bulb with our BB guns, in the town of Bassett. Dad and his brothers and

sisters attended Park School (Elementary School) that was built in 1907/08

and he graduated from the Marceline High School in May 1940.

 

A cousin remembered Bud in 1926. "... Bud was a big cut up and kept us

laughing most of the time." He was that way until the very end.

 

Dad worked in one of the local movie theatres in Marceline, as the

projectionist. He got the job from his big brother, Bob when Dad was about

15 years old. He would say, "If only one couple stayed to see the all night

show, I would be there 'til five in the morning!" It really aggravated him.

 

 

Dad told my brother Danny the following story: He (Dad) had gone to talk

with the local draft board and got into a disagreement with the guy that was

in charge. He said that shortly thereafter, in November 1942, he was drafted

into the U.S. Army during WWII. While in boot camp at Ft. Roberts in

California, he would meet his friend Bill Holvey and they would party in the

big cities of California.

 

He became part of the 103rd Infantry Cannon Company, a regiment of the 43rd

Infantry Division. The book, The Cannoneers - GI Life in a World War II

Cannon Company, by W. Stanford Smith, tells their story. The company saw

action in the Pacific Ocean. Their journey took them to New Caledonia, New

Zealand, New Guinea, Manila and finally into Tokyo, Japan in November 1945.

Dad was so proud of the Veterans Wall on the Iola Square.

 

Dad very seldom talked of his time in the service until his later years,

unless it was to complain about long lines and sleeping in tents. He

contracted Malaria in the Pacific islands, spent time in the hospital there,

and was released to fight again. When I would ask if he'd like to go camping

in my RV (with all it's comforts), Dad would just cuss, and say, "I camped

all I ever want to camp in the Army."

 

He did tell of the time his men were out on patrol searching for Japanese in

the many caves. The Japs had dug in the islands of the South Pacific. As

he stood at the entrance of one of the caves, a Japanese hand grenade rolled

out between his legs and dropped down a small cliff behind him. When it

went off, he felt he was the luckiest guy in the world because shrapnel did

not hit him. Dad threw a couple of grenades in the entrance to the cave and

left them to die in New Guinea.

 

After the war ended, Dad worked for the Santa Fe Railroad as a Brakeman in

Marceline, attended a Community College in Kirksville, Missouri for a short

time, then moved to Kansas City, Missouri. He and Mom, Rose Marie WRIGHT,

dated for a while after the War and married at his sister, Gladys Cochran

Jefferson's home in Kansas City, Missouri on July 11, 1947. Dad was a good

friend of Mom's brothers'; Wayne, Dale, Harold, Kenny WRIGHT and later were

dear friends of Mom's sister' Geneva and baby brother Ronnie.

 

Dad was a Taxi Cab driver in downtown Kansas City, and then worked with his

brother-in-law, Jeff JEFFERSON, in the construction and asbestos business.

He worked for many years as an electrician for Kansas City Power and Light,

and then an electrical construction company before becoming the Electrical

Foreman in Iola, Kansas. It was while he worked for the electrical

construction company that he was electrocuted with 6,000 volts on a high

electrical pole. He spent nearly a month in the St. Joseph Hospital in

Kansas City, Missouri. Dad worked for the City of Iola from 1959 until

1987, retiring with 28 years of service.

 

Our family made several trips between home in Iola and Dad and Mom's home

town of Marceline, Missouri. We always had a station wagon to make the

trip, like the wild pink 1959 Plymouth Suburban which seated six people.

With five kids, at least two of us always had to sit in the back with the

Luggage, and all are still living in Iola. Me (Bruce) has worked for Haldex

since 1974, Dan, who owns Renee' Bakery on the square, Pat, who lives on a

farm west of Iola, Pam, who has an office on the square and works in Social

Work and Terri, who helps out at the bakery and takes good care of Mom.

 

Bud, as everyone knew him, was almost famous throughout Iola for the big

stogie cigar he had sticking out of his mouth. His favorite brand was El

Producto cigars. After he was told by the doctors to give up smoking, Dad

continued to smoke and kept his boxes of cigars hid in the garage out back

of the house.

 

The day after Thanksgiving, November 27, 1998, Dad had a small heart attack

and was flown to Research Medical Center in Kansas City, Missouri. After

many ups and downs, especially after experiencing a third heart attack he

started to get better. His heart surgeon, Dr. Forman, once told his family,

"he has more lives than a cat."

 

On Saturday, April 10, 1999, Dad spent the night talking with each of his

kids while we took turns sitting with him through the night in his hospital

room. Each of us would stay for a couple of hours at a time. I don't think

he was ever alone the entire time he spent in hospitals. There was always a

member of his family with him for those tough weeks and months.

 

My time with him that last night, was from 11:30 PM 'til 1:30 AM. I was

studying for my class at Pittsburg State University and Dad was watching a

movie. He kept asking what I was working on and I would read him the paper

I was writing. We talked about him wanting to leave the hospital right

then and there. Dad said, "If I had my 105 mm Howitzer from the war, I'd

blow a hole right through that wall and we'd escape." I laughed and hugged

him and told him he'd be going home soon. A little after 7:00 that

morning, Dad finally escaped, and while sitting peacefully in a chair, he

passed away.

 

On April 13, 1999, he was laid to rest in Highland Cemetery in Iola, Kansas.

At his funeral, our family shared memories highlighted Dad's life and as his

grandkids and great grandkids called him, Grandpa Cochran, had a deep love

for, and dedication to his family. When you belonged to him, you knew that

you could count on him to be there, no matter what.

 

Written by: A. Bruce Cochran Iola, Kansas

 

 

 

 

As a lasting tribute to my father,

the following was written by my best

friend, Buddy Baker.

Published in the Iola Register on Friday, April 16, 1999

 

 

 

Letter to the Editor:

 

Tuesday I had a wonderful opportunity to view an original slice of

Americana in Iola along with several hundred other citizens. The family of

C. L. "Bud" COCHRAN buried the patriarch of their living family in a hero's

fashion.

The man who helped raise such a classic American family along with

his partner in the "family business" for the past fifty-two years, Rose

Marie, stood tall in that great "bucket truck" in the sky as he watched his

assembled kin stoically file down the main isle of the First Baptist Church.

As they had done in the last few months of Bud's failing heath, they were

together grieving over but more importantly celebrating the life of their

departed love one.

During the past two years of his declining health, I visited Bud in

his home and several times at Allen County Hospital. During each of my

visits there were always four or five grandchildren, great grandchildren,

and various mixes of his two sons and three daughters and their respective

spouses at his side laughing, telling stories, and generally allowing Bud to

count his amassed wealth of family members.

Tuesday's service at the First Baptist Church was attended by a

phalanx of City employees past and present along with the recessed members

of Iola's Mayor and City Commissioners. The service reached its apex when

the Reverend Duane SNAVELY struggled with resisting throat muscles to read

memorials to Bud from various family members. When Rev. SNAVELY completed

reading Bud's children's, grandchildren's, and daughter-in-law's tributes,

from my vantage point, there wasn't a "dry eye" in the church.

Those that knew Bud realized he could be a crusty soul at times and

it wasn't always easy for him to say the words "I love you". What did come

easy for him was to show his love each day to his family.

It won't be too many years from now that any of us will be able to

attend a funeral service for those marvelous patriots of island hopping

Veterans of the Pacific Company during WWII. Serving in the US army's 103rd

Infantry Cannon Company, regiment of the 43rd Infantry division, Bud COCHRAN

was a patriot in a time when admittedly it might have been easier to

unqualifiedly and unconditionally support Uncle Sam's objectives. Bud, as

he did throughout his life, performed his service in an exemplary manner

winning one of America's higher military honors, the Bronze Star for heroism

in battle. For the historians among you I commend to you, The Cannon Years

- GI Life in a WWII Cannon Company by W. Stanford Smith. In his book the

author talks of Bud and some of his achievements during the Pacific

Campaigns of the Philippines, New Guinea, Manila etc.

The funeral service ended at 11:50 am as the fifty plus car

procession labored up North Cottonwood to Highland Cemetery. We met lunch

time traffic driving South on Cottonwood and without exception, every car

from Iola's North Industrial complex of companies along with students,

faculty and administrators of A.C.C.C politely pulled over to show respect

to Bud's family, knowing full well over one third of many of their thirty

minute lunch period was lost. Those who think this is just an American

tradition should attend a service in one of our metroplexes.

As the family gathered under the tent, Rev. Waylon INGLE apparently

arranged with his employer to shed a few of natures tears to set the

appropriate scene at the beginning graveyard service.

Finally members of Moran and LaHarpe veteran organizations, many of

whom were of Bud's generation, fired volleys of the traditional twenty-one

gun salute. Completing the full military honors was a bugler's rendition of

"Taps".

The ladies of the First Baptist Church in their ministry to grieving

family members provided a wonderful spread of America's farm bounty for over

sixty members of the Cochran Clan. The church offered a private place to

meet and share many tales, to laugh, and yes, even to shed a few more tears

in celebration of Bud's life. A life that began in Walt Disney's hometown

of Marceline, Missouri, then later to this small southeastern town where

Carrie Nation enthusiastically shattered beer hall windows. I spoke to many

of the out-of-town family members and to a person they were truly impressed

with the way Iola said goodbye to their loved one.

Norman Rockwell could not have painted a more beautiful collage of

small town America nor God create a more loving family. You did us proud

Iola.

 

 

 

 

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