Harold Lafayette "Hal" Cochran Jr., often known as "Coach", passed away from this earthly life at 6:14 am on Saturday, July 17, 2021. As he was a man of deep faith and a disciple of Christ, this is cause for celebration and Hallelujah!! In his last days, Hal spent time with many that he loved, most notably his cherished wife of 28 years and faithful caregiver, Virginia "Jinny" Cochran. Hal had a big heart and is survived by his sister Freda Lane, daughter Susan Kay Cochran Cornutt and her husband, Drew; step-daughters and sons he loved as his own: Cheryl and David Dickerson, Samantha McDaniel, Andy and Beda Cain, Julie and Scott Burton, Steve and Mary Cain, Michael and Michele Porter, and Allison Porter. Hal is also survived by a bevy of treasured grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews, who made his life very rich, particularly his niece and devoted caregiver of 5 years, Janna Bruce. He was preceded in death by his mother, Calla Mae, and his father, Reverend Harold L. Cochran, Sr. Also preceding him in death, his first wife and Susan's mother, Eloise Howard Cochran, and wives Winifred Porter and Adelaide Cain; his sister Celia Bruce and brother Danny Cochran. Hal Cochran found the true passion of his life in educating and stimulating young minds through his high school teaching and coaching career, which spanned from 1949 until the death of his first wife in 1971. He retired as Assistant Principal at Sprayberry High School, but was most associated with winning basketball teams in Cobb County and throughout the state of Georgia as Sprayberry's head coach. Coach Cochran held the reputation of getting the most out of his players. His team won a county championship in 1965, a region title in 1966, and went to the state tournament four times. During the span of years 1965-68, Sprayberry teams compiled an 88 win-28 loss record. Along with men's basketball, Coach Cochran also took great pride and joy in coaching Sprayberry's track team, as well, taking first place in Cobb County, May 1969. During his coaching career, Hal Cochran was selected to participate in Atlanta Hawks summer basketball camps. A visionary before Cobb County schools integrated, Cochran developed his own summer camps for young ball players around Marietta, bringing in talented Black youths from Atlanta to practice with his own players. These integrated camps tapped into the coach's Christian beliefs, but also fed his competitive spirit and the desire to make all young people elevate themselves through new experiences and thoughts. As a man of 92 years and 10 months, Hal Cochran was blessed with a long and full life, often beset by tragedy. He had a big heart, and a sincere curiosity and authentic love for people. Hal took pride in his military service in 1952, and relished that opportunity to travel abroad to both Italy and Austria. He was passionate and gracious, quick-witted and cerebral; an avid reader, writer and self-proclaimed "progressive conservative". He enjoyed a stirring political debate, having specialized in Political Science and Civics when teaching. And he self-published two books of poetry in his life, "Pomes for a People Penned by a Pedagogue" followed by "Pebbles and Blossoms". Hal Cochran took great pride in being unpredictable and "never fitting into a box". Diagnosed in his 40's with mitochondrial myopathy, Hal lived with unbelievable grace and acceptance as he gradually lost the use of his legs over the decades. The last 5 years of his life he was bedridden and paralyzed from the waist down. Born on September 5, 1928 to a Methodist minister and his wife, the eldest of 4 children, Hal was drawn to God and a faith-filled life early on. He found solace in his relationship with God and spent his life devoted to "what mattered most to God: People". After his coaching and teaching career, Hal Cochran became a lay minister at First United Methodist Church in Marietta, Georgia. He was primarily responsible for visitation of the elderly and conducting Sunday worship services in nursing and retirement homes. But Hal was also a dynamic presence at First Methodist staff meetings, participated in Sunday services and the occasional infant baptism. Identifying as a "charismatic Christian", Hal Cochran also developed paths for spiritual education, expression and worship on his own time and with his own dime. He started a monthly charismatic worship group on Sunday evenings called the Wesley Fellowship (after Methodist founder John Wesley). And Hal was asked to grow and expand the reaches of a Methodist women's retreat near Tiger, GA, called Cove Crest, a group that he grew to over 100 interdenominational women over the course of his 15 years involvement. Hal Cochran was a force and an inspiration, whether you knew him from the classroom or principal's office, one of his sports teams or a Sunday school class he often taught...or maybe you benefitted from one of his many acts of kindness or financial generosity. Hal Cochran was a man of character, service and humor, who found something good in everyone...or never ceased trying. He lived his convictions and his faith and died prepared to meet his Maker, after almost a century of life on this planet. Hal Cochran leaves a void in this world. It is up to us who loved him to follow his example and fill it. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, please donate in Hal's honor to one of his favorite charities, St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital at www.stjude.org Visitation will be Wednesday, July 21, from 4-8pm at Collins Funeral Home, Acworth. Funeral will be Thursday, July 22 at Marietta First Methodist Church at 4pm.
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