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
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
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
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