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Former sheriff's deputy Cochran dies at 67

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By Leslie Moore

 

The Taylor County community has gathered around a local family to say goodbye to a husband, father, brother and friend.

James Cochran, former sheriff’s deputy, Taylor County magistrate and school bus driver, died last Thursday. He was 67.

Bro. Brian Rafferty, lead pastor at Elk Horn Baptist Church, officiated Cochran’s funeral on Monday.

Rafferty said the family has received “phenomenal” support from the community.

“He was a loved man. I bet there was 800 to 1,000 people that came out to the visitation.”

Taylor County Jailer and former Sheriff Eddie “Hack” Marcum worked with Cochran when he was a sheriff’s deputy. He said he remembers Cochran as a dedicated member of law enforcement who loved fighting the drug and marijuana problem in Taylor County.

“He tried to do things that he thought were for the good of the community,” Marcum said.

Taylor Circuit Court Clerk Rodney Burress, who was jailer when Cochran was a sheriff’s deputy, agrees. He has known Cochran for 25 years.

“I can remember the time that James was out huntin’ marijuana in a helicopter and was going to jump out of the helicopter when he spotted some in a corn field,” Burress said. “He was going to jump out of the helicopter, but didn’t realize the corn was 12 to 14 feet tall, so he jumped out of the helicopter and broke his ankle.”

Known for being a “cut-up” and easygoing person, Burress said Cochran didn’t let his injury slow him down for long.

Marcum said that while Cochran was a lot of fun to work with and be around, he was also very opinionated.

“We didn’t always see eye to eye all the time, but we always met at a happy medium,” Marcum said. “If you work with somebody as long as James and I did, and you agree on everything, there’s something wrong with both of you.”

Former Judge/Executive Paul Patton said he became friends with Cochran through their shared involvement in gospel music. He also worked with Cochran when he served as Third District magistrate.

“He was very cooperative as a member of the court and dedicated to doing the best work possible, not only for his district, but the entire county,” Patton said.

Patton said Cochran was supportive of the Taylor County Detention Center, the work having begun on that project while he was in office, and also in laying the groundwork for the Taylor County Judicial Center.  

“James loved people and he was a dedicated leader,” Patton said. “Decisions he made and projects he completed while in office will have a positive effect upon Taylor County for many years.”

Dr. James Jones, First District magistrate, said he has known Cochran for more than 30 years. He said Cochran can best be described by one word — conscientious.

“As a law enforcement officer, James was always fair,” Jones said. “James was the kind of person that would not mind expressing himself, he was open, he listened and tried to be fair.”

As a magistrate, Jones said, Cochran always did what he thought was best for the people in Taylor County. Ed Gorin, Fifth District magistrate, said he served with Cochran for four years.

“James was a very fine fella,” Gorin said. “He was always working with all the court members to provide good solutions to help this county move forward.”

Former Taylor County School District Superintendent Gary Seaborne said Cochran was a personal friend of his and, as a bus driver, was an ideal employee.

“James was an excellent school bus driver,” Seaborne said. “The students who rode his bus all seemed to like him and respect him. They didn’t have to stand outside and watch for him. He would always be on time.”

Cochran is also well known for his participation in gospel music, which spanned several decades.

Along with his wife, Galoris, he was in the group Bluegrass Gospel Inspirations.

“He was a good singer. Everybody just seemed to love the way he sang,” Jones said. “We had him at our church on several occasions.”

Julius Agee has known Cochran for 40 years and said they played music together for about that long.

“He’s a good guy, I got along with him better than some brothers,” Agee said. “If you needed help, he was always there to help you. All you had to do was call him.”

Jerry Forrest also played music with Cochran in the 1990s.

“I picked with him probably four or five years off and on,” Forrest said. “In my opinion, he was a fine feller, probably one of the best deputy sheriff’s we ever had.”

Those who knew Cochran say his legacy won’t soon be forgotten.  

“He was just a good man,” Rafferty said. “And he’s going to be missed greatly by our church and our community.”