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Catherine Joan Cochran

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Catherine Joan Cochran Notice

Catherine Joan Cochran, a prominent Howard County businesswoman, civil rights pioneer, and activist for good government, died peacefully at her Clarksville home on June 28, 2015, surrounded by her family. She was 85 years old. She is survived by her husband, former County Executive Edward L. Cochran; sister Anne Thompson of Milton, Massachusetts; brothers William Flanagan of Needham, Massachusetts, and John Flanagan of Ellicott City, Maryland; her six children, Edward Cochran III (Andrea) of Minneapolis, Minnesota; William Cochran (Teresa) of Frederick, Maryland; Mark Cochran (Deirdre) of West Chester, Pennsylvania; Mary Catherine Cochran; Courtney Watson (Richard) and Chris Cochran (Laura); all of Ellicott City, Maryland. She also leaves 23 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Born in 1930 in Boston, Mrs. Cochran received a degree in Literature from Newton College in Newton, Massachusetts. She pursued a master's degree in Theology at St. Mary's College, in Notre Dame, Indiana. At Notre Dame, she met her husband of 62 years, Harford County native Edward Cochran. The two were married in Milton, Massachusetts, in 1953. They lived briefly in New Haven, Connecticut, and moved to Howard County with their first two children in 1956.The couple bought Holly Hill, a historic farmhouse on ten acres in Clarksville, and embraced rural life. Mrs. Cochran soon became active in education and civil rights. She taught CCD as a member of St. Louis Parish in Clarksville and worked to advance women's and minority rights. She successfully advocated for kindergarten programs and helped to integrate Howard County public schools. As a member of the League of Woman Voters, Howard County Citizens Association and other groups, she was dedicated to improving government transparency and accountability. She was active in numerous elections in support of candidates at the local, state, and national level. She continually brought her children's attention to the wonders of the natural world and raised them with a deep sense of social responsibility, a commitment to civic and political engagement, and a passion for intellectual and cultural development. All six children have prominent careers grounded in nature, science, the arts, and business, and all six have maintained close ties to Howard County. Four still live and work locally, including Preservation Howard County founder and first President Mary Catherine Cochran, and former County Council Chairperson Courtney Watson. Mrs. Cochran entered the workforce for the first time in 1978 at age 48, obtaining her real estate license after studies at Howard Community College. Within a few short years, she became the top realtor for her firm in Howard County, and then was named the top Howard County realtor across all firms. For more than two decades, she topped production lists at three leading firms, winning a stack of awards and accolades. She was called by some the most trusted and sought after realtor in Howard County. Columbia founder Jim Rouse attributed her preeminent success to the fact that she genuinely liked people. Her family and those who knew her closely say that she valued family above all else, and she would share with them her enthusiasm for the cardinals, sparrows and downy woodpeckers that frequented the large array of birdfeeders outside her kitchen window. Bluebirds were her favorites and became her signature symbol within her extended family. Her Boston childhood stayed with her always. On the day she died, the summer air was dry and cool, conditions that she often called "New England weather," and her family noticed that the bluebird boxes at Holly Hill were filled with baby bluebirds. The family will receive friends on Thursday, July 2nd from 2pm- 4pm and 6pm - 8pm at Harry H. Witzke's Family Funeral Home, Inc., 4112 Old Columbia Pike, Ellicott City, Maryland 21043. A Memorial Mass will be held on Friday, July 3rd at 10 am at the Franciscan Friary, 12290 Folly Quarter Road, Ellicott City, Maryland 21042. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that her memory be honored with donations to Catholic Relief Services, P.O. Box 17090, Baltimore, Maryland, 21297-0303 or to the Franciscan Friary, 12290 Folly Quarter Road, Ellicott City, Maryland, 21042.
Published in Baltimore Sun on July 1, 2015
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