WILLADINE (ORTON) COCHRAN

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WILLADINE (ORTON) COCHRAN JERICHO - Willadine (Orton) Cochran, 87, died on April 21, 2013, in the Vermont Respite House following two and a half years of treatment for bladder cancer. She was born in the village of Hanson in western Kentucky on Dec. 5, 1925, the daughter of William David Orton and Johnie Ida (Fleming) Orton. Widowed in 1927, Mrs. Orton moved her family to Mishawaka, Ind., in 1932. Willy was educated in Mishawaka schools, graduating from high school in 1944. She attended Indiana University, where she was a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority. After seven years of their "going steady," as the terminology of the time had it, Willy and Robert Cochran were married on June 20, 1948, in the First Methodist Church of Mishawaka. That fall the couple moved to Ann Arbor, Mich., where Bob pursued graduate studies while Willy worked in a department store to support them. In 1954 Willy and Bob and their two young sons moved to Burlington, then to South Burlington and finally to Jericho. They spent the next fifty years in a farmhouse built in 1830, and in 2010 they divided their land and built a new home. Willy was an uncommonly active and energetic person. She turned her hand to many forms of arts and crafts, including painting, potting, metal sculpture, the playing of the flute and various recorders, quilting and rug-hooking. Of the many striking and original pieces she hooked, the remarkable achievement is a 9 by 12 dining-room rug inspired by doors Willy was struck by and which she photographed while on a barge-canal trip in France in 1991. The resulting project took seven years to complete, from the initial stage of tracing the photos as projected on a screen through design of the border, with preparatory steps of cutting strips of wool, choosing and dyeing colors and then executing the demanding process of the hooking itself. Expert instructors at the Green Mountain Rug School pronounced the finished product a work of art and it occupied the position of honor in the 1998 hookedrug exhibit at the Shelburne Museum. Over the years Willy also enjoyed the activity and congeniality of a number of tennis and bridge groups. In several important realms Willy has proven to be a pioneer in modern-day Jericho. After she had gained experience teaching at the Green Mountain Pre-School and the Unitarian Church School and shortly before volunteering in a Head Start program, Willy joined her close friend Gladys (Dee Dee) Jameson in founding the Saxon Hill Pre-School in 1964. The two women recognized the community need in the years prior to Governor Madeleine Kunin's successful push for mandatory kindergarten instruction in the State. Willy specialized as the crafts instructor at the school until Dee Dee left to join the University of Vermont faculty, after which Willy became the head teacher until she and Bob left town to spend a year in Norway. Willy has long been gratified that the school continues to flourish as a nursery school. Upon her return from abroad, Willy managed the Red Mill Craft Shop for the Jericho Historical Society. Another major service to her adoptive town has been as a Justice of the Peace from the early 1970's until 2013. She has been a very popular choice of couples seeking civil marriage. She lost count somewhere after 150 such couples. While volunteering to help instruct immigrants in gaining a command of the English language, as is required if they are to become naturalized citizens, Willy learned from the venerable Esther Sorrell that the monopoly held by the all-Republican Jericho Board of Civil Authority was unconstitutional. The Board's composition was also all white and all male. At Esther's urging, Willy bearded the lions in their den and was accepted as a member but informed that she would not be allowed to vote. Whether because she was a woman or because she was a Democrat was not explained. With another boost from Mrs. Sorrell, Willy was enfranchised, but of course her one vote carried little weight. It was, however, a significant breakthrough, as today the Democrats far outnumber the Republicans among Jericho's twelve elected justices. Additional service to Jericho has come in the form of committee assignments. When the town recognized the absolute necessity of naming its streets and roads, Willy was appointed to participate in the process. She was also Jericho's first representative to the Winooski Valley Park district when that entity was created. Willy and Bob traveled extensively, both at home and abroad, visiting all but North Dakota of the contiguous 48 states, most of western and some of eastern Europe, the Caribbean, China and Tanzania. Beginning in the 1960's, Willy and her dear friend Jean Archibald and their children vacationed annually on Isle au Haut in Maine. In later years, Bob joined Willy for the month of July in that cherished spot. Willy was predeceased by her sister, Maxine Startsman, of Riverside, Calif. She is survived by sons, Andrew (wife Ardyce) of North Hero and Bradenton, Fla., and Clinton (wife Elizabeth) of Berwyn, Pa. and Ocean Pines, Md.; grandchildren, Tyler Cochran (Jillian), Tyler Besche, Hunter Cochran, Holly Burnham (Kurt) and Nicole Lamb (Richard); two nephews, David Startsman and Dana Startsman; and six greatgrandchildren. She is also survived by a beloved god-daughter, Melissa Hotchkiss. The family wishes to thank Willy's chief physician, Dr. Steven Ades, and also Dr. Thomas Roland, Dr. Brian Irwin, N. P. Janet Ely, scheduler Roxxy and the Fletcher Allen oncology staff, the V. N. A. and the Vermont Respite House for the excellent and compassionate care they provided Willy. A memorial service will be held at the Jericho Congregational Church in Jericho Center at 1 p. m. on Saturday, April 27, 2013. Arrangements are by the Cremation Society of Chittenden County, a division of the Ready Family, 261 Shelburne Rd. in Burlington. Online condolences may be sent to www.cremationsociety cc.com. Donations in memory of Willy may be made to the Saxon Hill School at P.O. Box 68, Jericho, VT 05465.

Published in The Burlington Free Press on Apr. 23, 2013
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