(Editorâ€™s note: Part one ran Feb. 12. The majority of that article centered upon Jerry Cochraneâ€™s experience as a young man while in the military, and following his retirement from the military, his return home and his ever-increasing involvement in the community, especially education. The Lincoln Times-News is proud to conclude this feature on a stalwart of the community.)
Bringing a college campus to Lincolnton has been just one effect Jerry Cochraneâ€™s interest in education has had on this community. Spurred on by his concern for the state of education in Lincoln County, Cochrane ran for and served a second term as county commissioner from 2000 to 2004. Clearly, it was a love for Lincolnton rather than a passion for politics that brought Cochrane back to the commissionersâ€™ table.
â€œIâ€™ve never been a politician,â€ said Cochrane. â€œBut I felt there were things that needed to be done.â€
Today, Cochrane says he is proud of the Lincoln
County school system and is pleased with the new buildings, as well as with Superintendent Watsonâ€™s development of faculty and staff. While Cochrane is quick to note the positive changes he has seen, he does not hesitate to point out that keeping our schools in good shape is an ongoing process.
â€œYou canâ€™t ever rest,â€ Cochrane said.
For his part, Cochrane has done his best to live by that credo. He continued to work at Cochrane Furniture for two years after his family sold the company, and his subsequent retirement has been anything but leisurely.
In addition to his involvement with the schools â€“ including being a mentor to area youth â€“ Cochrane is a former member of the board of the YMCA and was instrumental in helping raise funds to build a YMCA in Lincolnton.
Cochrane has also been on the boards of the Lincoln County School of Technology, the Lincoln County Economic Development Association, Helping Hands Health Clinic and the hospital. In addition, he is a member of the Rotary club and an elder at First Presbyterian Church.
It is safe to say that Cochrane has managed to stay busy as after retirement as he was during the working years.
â€œIt feels like Iâ€™ve spent half of my life asking people for money,â€ said Cochrane. â€œI find thereâ€™s lots more to do than I have time for. Iâ€™ve never been bored in my life.â€
Cochrane says he still gets up around 5 a.m. every morning, a habit he picked up working at Cochrane Furniture, when he would go in to work at 6 a.m. so he could be there to greet the employees. During his years in the furniture business, Cochrane never took his employees for granted. He prided himself on knowing each employee by name and always recognizing the employer-employee relationship as one that should be mutually beneficial.
That philosophy also sums up Cochraneâ€™s give-and-take view on community involvement.
â€œThe community has given me so much,â€ Cochrane said. â€œI need to give back to it.â€
Giving back to the community has become a way of life for Cochrane. Recently, the issue of race relations in Lincoln County has sparked Cochraneâ€™s interest.
â€œI think itâ€™s something weâ€™ve fallen away from in Lincoln County,â€ said Cochrane. â€œI feel we could do more in Lincoln County to bring people together. I wish we could be more proactive.â€
In Cochraneâ€™s view, any community is defined by its moral value, work ethic and education. Cochrane has certainly improved the Lincolnton community in all of these areas. Despite all the good work he has done, Cochrane has no immediate plans to slow down. While he sees a lot of positive things going on in Lincoln County, Cochrane knows there is still work to be done.
â€œWeâ€™ve got challenges, such as growth,â€ Cochrane said. â€œBut on the other hand, itâ€™s an opportunity for us. Itâ€™s such a great place to live.â€
by Allyson Levine