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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

A too brief outline of the life of our uncle, Ira Lee Cochran, Jr.

Ira Lee Cochran, Jr
One of the most interesting characters in my family tree is my mother's uncle, Lee.  Ira and Luella Cochran's youngest child was their only son, Ira Lee, Jr.

Uncle Lee was born November 15, 1920, in Westmoreland County Pennsylvania, just a few months ahead of the passing of the last of his grandparents, Frank Anson Farmer, the following January.

Sometime before 1929 the extended Cochran family - Ira, Luella, their four children, Aline, Jean, Trudy, and Lee; Aline's two young children, and Dr. Cochran's sister, Jessie and her husband James McCorkle - packed up and moved to Kernersville, North Carolina.  They lived in a chicken house for a time, while a home was constructed.

Tragedy struck on May 4, 1929, about six months before Lee's ninth birthday, when his father died of a stroke.

Lee Cochran spent roughly half his life a bachelor.  He married briefly at a young age, but the marriage ended quickly in divorce or annulment.

Lee enlisted in the US Navy sometime in 1942. Correspondence from the period indicates that he may have been stationed in New Orleans for a time, perhaps for training, but by late November he was apparently recuperating in a naval hospital in San Diego.

His injuries were apparently serious enough to merit a medical discharge, upon which Lee re-enlisted in the United States Merchant Marine, serving in both the Atlantic and Mediterranean theaters.

After the war, Lee entered the trucking business. Sometime in the early years of his driving career Lee was injured in an accident in Virginia, where he was hospitalized for a time.

By the late fifties, if not before, Lee was operating his own truck, and remained an independent driver for the rest of his career.

At one point, probably the late fifties or nineteen-sixties, Lee owned a small airplane and undertook training for his pilot's license.  The story is told that a man approached Lee and wanted to buy the airplane. Lee didn't want to part with the plane, but the man offered a very good price, so Lee accepted the offer.  Not long afterward, the new owner overloaded the plane and died attempting to take off.

Lee met Catherine Farrow through a neighbor when she shared a house in the Ardmore neighborhood of Winston-Salem after graduating from college.  The neighbor was one of Lee's best childhood friends.  The friend originally set Lee up to date another woman in the house, Maxine, but soon turned hi attention to Catherine.  They dated for about twenty years before marrying on January 19, 1973, in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Lee purchased land in Stokes County, North Carolina, in the Quaker Gap community.  Lee and Catherine intended to retire to a house they never built, up on Saddle mountain. Catherine eventually sold the farm and the house on Patria Street, where they lived together until Lee's death on January 22, 1997. 

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