Charles Alvin “Mickey” Cochrane died late Saturday at the age of 97after several years of declining health. He is survived by his wife of seventy- four years, Helen Lewis Cochrane. Charles was born February 26, 1918, in Ether, NC, to Laura Needham and Daniel Hugh Cochrane. He completed high school at the Country Life Academy in Star, NC, and attended High Point College (now, University) in High Point, NC, playing three sports for that school. It was during his years at High Point that Charles was given the nickname “Mickey” Cochrane and that he met Miss Helen Lewis of Greensboro, NC. “I am going to marry that girl,” he told his college friends in the High Point pool hall the first time he saw Helen. They were married in Greensboro in December of 1940 and moved, after his graduation in 1941, to his home town of Star where their first child, Laura Jean, was born a year later. With the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Mickey enlisted in the Navy where he taught enemy aircraft recognition in the South Pacific as well as coaching sporting events for his fellow soldiers. After the war, Lieutenant Cochrane returned to Star to teach and coach for the next ten years, raising three children: Jean, Robert Daniel (Dan), and Krisan, each of whom became school teachers.
Star had many exciting basketball games during Coach Cochrane’s years there-both boys’ and girls’ teams. The 1948-49 Star boys’ team had a 49-game winning streak that led to the Montgomery and Tri-County championship. That was the first championship team for Star since Coach Cochrane was himself captain of the 1935 winning team. George Coggin, member of that champion team, says that Mickey was an important positive male influence in his life, adding that “Coach . . . had the ability to get the best from his students and athletes.”
For the years in Star, Mickey conducted summer programs for the town’s youth that included sports in the gym featuring Helen’s homemade oatmeal cookies for snack time. There was a skating rink he ran in what is now the town’s fire station as well as a season when Mickey served as life guard at the Montgomery County Country Club pool.
Despite the sudden and tragic death of Mayor Daniel Hugh Cochrane in 1957, his son Mickey and family carried out their plans to follow former Star principal, D. W. Sanders, to Garner, NC, to teach and coach at Garner High School. At Garner High, Mickey also took responsibility for the school busses, eventually moving to the Wake County Central Office to handle the bus fleet for the entire county. He also coordinated the county drivers’ education program, personally teaching many physically challenged young people to drive, rigging special controls to accommodate their individual needs.
It had been Mickey’s pleasure to follow closely the lives of the many young people he impacted over the years as teacher, coach, and mentor. The number of citizens of Montgomery and Wake counties who studied Algebra under Mr. Cochrane would be hard to count! His three children were among them. His Garner students will remember the many years when Mr. Cochrane would tear out of the classroom, up the back hall, and out to his car in answer to the fire siren as a dedicated Garner Volunteer Fireman. He had been the Fire Chief of Star before leaving Montgomery County, and he valued his ties to the Garner Department lasting some fifty years, as he remained an Honorary Fireman up until his death.
As much as Algebra or history, Mickey Cochrane taught the importance of discipline, of integrity, and of having a good attitude. Ask any one of his many bus drivers what they learned about life from “driving for Mr. Cochrane.”
Mickey and Helen never missed a ball game, recital, church or school program of their treasured eight grandchildren: Jean and Tommy Tunstall’s Susan (Allen Hinton), Laura (Neil Jefferson), and Sarah (Scott Blake); Dan and Lyn’s Renee (Yongue), Michele, and Chad (Lisa Schutte); Krisan Gregson’s Hugh and Anna (Andrew Panagi). Until his health began to fail, Mickey attended many events for the next generation of ten great-grandchildren.
After retirement, Mickey continued his life-time habit of keeping busy with projects and hobbies. He daily studied the many stocks he followed, and he taught his grandchildren about the fractions of eighths. He loved to share the masterfully created “little boxes” he labored over with precise measuring and folding. Offices and homes of bankers, brokers, playwrights, college presidents, family, and friends--and anyone who crossed his path--still display miniature boxes hanging from golden twine, often crafted from a card that had special meaning to the recipient.
This man who was so loved by his family, so respected by his communities and co-workers, and who was such a role model for thousands of students, will not soon be forgotten by those whose lives he influenced.
The funeral service for Charles “Mickey” Cochrane will be at Garner United Methodist Church on Saturday, June 20, at 11 AM and will be followed by a reception where his life will be celebrated.
The family is grateful to Sarah Creel for her devotion to Mickey and appreciates the loving care he received from Jasmine Crowder, Kimberly Bradby, Dakerian Rhett, and Kendra Kellon. Memorials may be sent to Transitions Life Care (Hospice) of Wake County or Garner United Methodist Church.
Mickey will be laid to rest at Montlawn Cemetery in Raleigh, NC.
Arrangements by Bryan-Lee Funeral Home, Garner.