Civic leader dies

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Jack Cochran served the community he loved

L.R. Jack Cochran, who was general manager of North Arkansas Electric Cooperative for nearly 40 years, died Aug. 7 at Fulton County Hospital in Salem. He was 82.

Cochran had also been part owner of Areawide Media, which publishes The News.

Cochran was born Sept. 1, 1923, in Byron to the late Orgel and Eva York Cochran.

Cochran married Georgia Lee Rains June 26, 1943, in West Plains, Mo. The couple had five children.

Cochran joined North Arkansas Electric Cooperative in May 1942, two years after the company started services, as a bookkeeper. In May 1950 he was named general manager of the Cooperative and served in that capacity until his retirement in September 1988.

"If were were to single out one person most responsible for the vision and direction of NAEC, it would be Jack," NAEC CEO Mel Coleman said. "Undoubtedly he was one of the most influential, knowledgeable and dedicated leaders during his time. His mark is indelibly etched on this cooperative.

"He was known statewide as a leader and innovator," NAEC Manager of Member Services Jerry Estes said. "He was a terrific leader and always made sure employees worked safe. He was a tremendous leader; therefore NAEC was looked to for leadership in the state."

Cochran was a director and past chairman of both Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation and Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc., past president of Energy Conservation Electric Cooperative Corporation and Arkansas Electrification Council, former director of Electric Research and Manufacturing Cooperative and Arkansas' representative on NRECA's board for a number of years.

"He was a respected and dedicated leader in Arkansas' rural electrification program," said a spokesman. "His vision and foresight live on in the leadership of North Arkansas Electric Cooperatives."

"The attitude he carried for the employees was that this is a family oriented company," Estes said. "We still feel as if his family is our family."

Cochran was active in the community. He was a past president of the Salem Industrial Development Corporation, past president of the Salem Chamber of Commerce, former chairman of the Fulton County Hospital Board, the first member of the Baxter Regional Medical Center Board, former member of the state Department of Education's Advisory Council for Public Elementary and Secondary Education, past board member of the Bank of Salem and past president of the Salem Lions Club. He was also an elder of the Wheeling Church of Christ for many years.

"Jack's community was very close to his heart," Coleman said. "He worked extremely hard every day of his life to help this area's economic base. There was not a board or organization that Jack wasn't affiliated with."

"As we look around us today, we can't find much that didn't see his leadership and involvement," Coleman said. "In positions of leadership there are builders and caretakers. Jack was a builder, a builder in a time where his inspiration and hard work made things happen."

Survivors include his wife, Georgia, of Salem; his children Donna Roe and husband, Bill, of Sturkie, Terrisue Parker and husband, Joe, of Fort Smith, Rena McCall and husband, Jay, of Conway, and Sarah Gleghorn and husband, Reggie, of Salem; grandchildren Lyndel Roe, Jason Parker, John Leslie, Tennile Ellison, Ben Leslie, Kendra Cutsinger, Justin Gleghorn and Adam McCall; great-grandchildren Cresten Roe, Braden and Bryson Love, Ashley, Austin and Owen Parker, Joshua Cutsinger and Jack Leslie; sister Joan Adams of Odessa, Mo.; one niece; one nephew; and a host of friends.

Cochran was preceded in death by one son, Jackie Lee; one sister, Nonda; and his parents.

Services were held Aug. 9 at the Wheeling Church of Christ. Cochran was buried at the Salem Cemetery under the direction of Cox-Blevins Funeral Home of Salem.

"From sun up to sun down, from business to community to family, there just weren't many like Jack Cochran," Coleman said. "We will all remember the impact Jack had on our personal lives, our work here at the cooperative and most importantly all the good times, stories, the phrases and one-liners that he bestowed on all those he knew."

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