John Rogers Cochran Jr. loved the outdoors

John Rogers Cochran Jr. was a Boy Scout for life and a proud Hickman High School graduate.

Mr. Cochran, 74, died Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011, at Good Samaritan Loveland Village in Colorado.

He was born Aug. 27, 1937, in Kansas City to John Cochran Sr. and Betty Holmes Cochran. He was raised in Columbia, and though he did not remain in Columbia, he usually returned once a year.

"He was a proud graduate of Hickman High and returned for almost all of his class reunions," his son, John Cochran III, said.

Mr. Cochran got his career start in Columbia through managing the old drive-in theater and his involvement in the downtown theater, his son said. From there, he moved to Kansas City and joined the Commonwealth movie theater chain. He ended up retiring in Fort Collins, Colo., after more than 30 years with the company.

He couldn't have done it without his first wife, Penelope Cochran, whom he married in 1963. He might have won the "King of the Sun" award for being the best manager in 1975, but she was his right hand, the younger Cochran said.

"They made one heck of a team," he said. "In many ways, when it came to the theaters, Mom was Dad's right arm and helped him with his crazy shenanigans."

Mr. Cochran was also known for his crazy promotional stunts.

His son said when "Smokey and the Bandit" came out, his dad invited 18-wheel truckers and their rigs to the drive-in. When "Deliverance" came out, the river by the drive-in flooded. A third of the theater was covered in water, his son said. So, Mr. Cochran invited people with canoes to come and watch the movie from their boats. When "Bonnie and Clyde" came out, he bought an old, beat-up car and let the family have fun with it.

"We shot up a car and towed it to the theater and parked it outside the theater," the younger Cochran said.

Mr. Cochran and his wife had three children. Rebecca Jane, born in 1965, was their first child. She died in 1966 from cystic fibrosis. They then had John III in 1966 and Bethany Lynn in 1970.

Mr. Cochran was devoted to the Boy Scouts and anything to do with the outdoors. He loved to shoot, fish and canoe.

"He got nearly every highest honor available in Boy Scouts as well as in Explorer Scouting," his son said.

His awards include being inducted to Mic-O-Say, being a cubmaster of Pack 430 in Clinton, being a Vigil Honor within the Order of the Arrow and serving as the Longs Peak Council Lay Advisor to the Order of the Arrow.

His love for the outdoors showed through his travel with his second wife. After divorcing his first wife, he met and married Delores Heigert-Connor in 1985. He helped her raise her three children: Julie, Michael and John.

The two loved to travel together, especially on cruises to the Bahamas, Mexico and the Caribbean, the younger Cochran said.

Although he lived all over Missouri, in Fort Collins, Colo., and traveled outside of the country, Mr. Cochran remained loyal to Columbia.

"He loved his hometown of Columbia, the people and the state of Missouri as a whole," his son said. "To this day, he has lifelong friends coming from Columbia to be pallbearers and to come to his funeral."

Mr. Cochran is survived by his sister, Carolyn Cochran Clark, and her husband, David; two children, John Cochran III, and Bethany; seven grandchildren, Kristine Meares, Kyle Meares, Kraig Meares, Corinne Heigert, Patrick Connor, Lauren Connor, John Cochran IV and Christopher Cochran.

His wife, Delores Heigert-Connor, and his daughter, Rebecca, died earlier.

Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Good Samaritan Loveland Village at 2101 S. Garfield Ave., Loveland, Colo. Services will be at 10 a.m. Friday at the Good Samaritan.

Memorial donations can be sent to Resthaven Funeral Home at 8426 S. Highway 287, Fort Collins, CO 80525. Any donations will go to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the American Cancer Society, as chosen by Mr. Cochran.

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