Jeremiah Steven Cogan - "Pa"-The Last Cowboy" - age 89, died Feb. 23, 2013, at 10:50 p.m. surrounded by loving children.|
Jerry was born Nov. 25, 1923, to an Irish rancher and a German school marm in Nathrop, Colo.
He was ranch-raised along with two brothers and four sisters riding his horse with a cowboy hat and work boots. He always commented, "Real cowboys never wore cowboy boots."
On Oct. 14, 1946, Jerry married Vivian May Yates and after three years of being told they would never be able to have children, they produced their first. There began a grand family!
After 40 years of ranching, Jerry decided he needed to start a new venture to provide his growing family of eight children more opportunities. He traveled to Canada in October 1963, but was encouraged to "move on" to Alaska because of his special needs child, Christopher. Along with Vivian and their eight children, his mother-in-law, Ruby Pauline Dial Gross, was with them as they drove hundreds of miles toward the Last Frontier. By the time they arrived in Tok, the temperature read 70 degrees below zero and Vivian's mother proclaimed, "The Eskimos can keep this country, I'm going home."
Jerry finally settled in Fairbanks, where he had previously worked in 1955 dismantling a gold dredge at Livengood and performing many odd jobs which included shoveling snow, wood chopping and even baby-sitting.
In the next 20-plus years, Pa Cogan worked two eight-hour shifts at Creamer's Dairy for $400 per month, as a maintenance man at St. Joseph's Hospital for several years and at M.U.S. until his "retirement" in 1987.
In 1967, Jerry and Vivian were blessed to obtain the second to last 160 acre homestead in Alaska. Together, with his five oldest sons, Jerry built Haystack Road to make a route to his homestead.
The ground was unique for farming and living a pioneer life because it was tucked into the Willow Creek Valley of Haystack Mountain where there is a fresh water spring. Because of the hill above the homestead, Jerry was able to tap into the spring during the summer months to give Vivian running water inside their humble, two-story cabin.
Together, Jerry and Vivian were able to build a three-tier garden, raise cattle, dairy cows, pigs and chickens and eventually a root cellar for storing their vegetables and homemade root beer.
Jerry never really retired but worked at several hobbies such as building hope chests out of birch for his daughters and granddaughters, inventing useful tools for his family's use, taking a geology class and joined the University choir with Vivian. He continued gardening to supply his ever-growing family, which numbered 11 now with several grandbabies.
Jerry lovingly cared for his wife who survived several strokes that slowly debilitated her until she needed his constant attention and passed away this past August at age 84.
Jerry's children buried him in his homestead graveyard beside their mother in a handmade, birch coffin, built especially for his 6-foot-4-inch stature.
Jerry was preceded in death by his parents, Elizabeth and John Cogan; and his wife, Vivian.
He is survived by his brothers, Jack (John) and Joseph; his sisters, Leann (Amelia), Mary Margaret, Kathleen and Beth (Elizabeth); his children and their spouses: John and Nory (five children, 16 grand-children); Jeremiah and Carolyn (two children); Michael and Jenny (three children, one granddaughter); Patrick and Julie (two children, two grandsons); Andrew and Elizabeth (four children, six grandchildren); Vivian and Marshal Wiley and son, Alexander; Christopher Cogan; Ruby Pawson (two sons); Ruth and Paul Sonnenberg (11 children, seven grandchildren); David Cogan (two sons); Daniel and Dawn Cogan (two children).
A memorial service will be held at noon Saturday, March 2, 2013, in the Immaculate Conception Church.
A reception with slides and refreshments will immediately follow at First Presbyterian Church, 547 Seventh Ave. at the corner of Cushman Street and Seventh Avenue.
Published in Daily News-Miner on Feb. 27, 2013