WHO WAS DONALD COCHRANE?
By Ruth Ann Cochrane
Donald Alexander Cochrane was born December 12, 1919 to Henry and Estella Herron Cochrane. He was born on the Herron-Cochrane farm by King Settlement Road in Wilson Township, Alpena County, Michigan. He was the youngest of six children. His siblings included Lorraine, Henry Lee, Oran Alvin and Robert Raymond. One other female sibling was stillborn March 7, 1916.
Donald grew up at the family farm by King Settlement Road and attended the King School, a typical one-room school of its time with no indoor plumbing or central heat.
His education didn’t end with high school. He decided to attend Alpena County Normal to become a teacher. After a year of study, he received a diploma and a teaching certificate in 1940. He taught at the Besaw School in Wilson Township during the school year 1940-1941.
March 15, 1941 Donald married Marion LaVasser. Don and Marion had five children, Donald Alvin, Arthur James, Carol Lynn, William David, and Michael David. Together they enjoyed fishing and camping trips among other activities.
In April of 1944, Don was drafted into the Army to serve in WWII. He left his wife and two children behind. He often wondered if he would ever see them again. He was off to basic training near Tyler, Texas and would soon be sent overseas for duty. He was captured while in Germany and spent six months in a prison camp. When he was finally set free, he went to a hospital to receive medical treatment before going home to be released from service. The year was 1945.
Although Don was known as a successful teacher, teaching must not have been his calling. He only taught school one year. He was employed at several places after his stint in teaching. He worked at the Fletcher Paper Company in Alpena for over 25 years. He worked at Alpena’s Abitibi and was made foreman. Later he decided to go into the building trade. He worked for other builders before going into business for himself. He was a licensed contractor and master plumber. His business was known as Don Cochrane, Builder. His son, Arthur, worked with him the entire time he was in business. They took much pride in their work. In 1981, Don retired and took on a slower pace.
Among Don’s hobbies were woodworking, reading, cooking and hunting. The hunting camp near Hillman meant a great deal to him. Sometimes he would spend two months there in the fall. Family members joined him during deer hunting season and had the opportunity to spend quality time with him.
Don was a member of the Ex-POW’s organization. He attended the meetings regularly. The group would often have potlucks and the members looked forward to his homemade bread and other specialties. October 10, 2002 Donald passed away and ended a very eventful life.
A photo of Don Cochrane and Marion LaVasser Cochrane with their two oldest sons, Donald and Arthur. As noted on the photo margin this was shortly after his stint in one of Germany's stalags. He has good reason to be happy: he's home in piece.
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