A Memorial Service for Richard Morrison Cochran, 73, West Plains, Missouri, will be held at 1:00 p.m., Friday, January 9, 2015, at the First Christian Church, 422 West Main Street, West Plains, Missouri, under the direction of Robertson-Drago Funeral Home.
A lifelong resident of West Plains, Richard Morrison “Rick” Cochran, son of the late Russell Van and Dulcie Morrison Cochran, was born July 24, 1941, at Cottage Hospital and surrendered his soul to Heaven’s keeping January 6, 2015. Rick was married to Connie Garner in 1963 and had two children from that union, Richard and Gretchen. Rick married again on March 22, 2003, to his wife Pam, who survives him, along with stepchildren Brandi, Brittney and Becca. His two brothers, Russ and Michael, also survive.
In addition to his family, the loves of Rick’s life were hunting, fishing and guitar picking. As a young man, he developed a reputation as one of the area’s most savvy turkey hunters, spending countless pre-dawn hours in the woods long before the season opened, honing his calling technique while tracking the elusive birds’ movements. The many gobbler beards displayed on the walls of his music room are a testament to his skills as a hunter. His dad was also an avid outdoorsman, and the two of them kept the family supplied with a bounty of quail, dove, turkey, venison, wild duck and fish.
Rick and his brothers shared a great admiration for Chet Atkins that inspired all three to become guitar players. The Cochran brothers made numerous trips to Nashville together to spend time with their hero and indulge in various adventures, often attending the annual meeting of the Chet Atkins Appreciation Society with close family friend, Dennis Crider. His store, Rick’s Music, a fixture on The Square in the 1980s, was a picker-friendly meeting place for professional and amateur musicians alike. Weekly Thursday night jam sessions in Rick’s at-home music room were a long-standing local tradition that included musicians from all around the area. Rick welcomed one and all, from young beginners with hand-me-down acoustics to virtuoso guitar, fiddle and banjo players, giving them a space to share and enjoy making music for the pure fun of it.
A 1963 graduate of Arkansas State College, Rick taught biology at MSU-West Plains for nearly 30 years, making a lasting impact on thousands of students with his unpredictable teaching style and an ability to make learning easy, enjoyable and applicable to real life. The year of his retirement he was keynote speaker at the university’s commencement ceremony. In his speech he used the metaphor of growing gourds (one of his hobbies) and how every gourd is different to illustrate the path to a fulfilling, individual life. When the graduates accepted their diplomas, each one also received a packet of gourd seeds with written instructions for how to sprout them.
Rick was a creature of habit, and for many years you could find him eating lunch at the original Ozark Café on Washington Avenue or the Red Apple Grill on The Square. Waitresses all over town knew that Picky Ricky, as he came to be known, wanted his “toast burnt” and his “milk cold.” Wherever he went he was glad to shoot the breeze with friends and strangers alike.
Rick’s generosity shone most brightly at Christmastime, when he often bought gifts in bulk (one year buying nearly 100 Daisy Red Rider BB guns), distributing them to friends and family with glee. Endearingly eccentric, Rick was exceptional in most every way, and his life was filled with learning and humor.
The family wishes to thank the staff at West Vue Nursing Home for their devoted care during his final days, which were spent with the company of family and many, many friends. He was a part of the spirit of his beloved hometown, and greatly loved. His like will not be seen again.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial donations be made in his name to the Wild Turkey Federation or the Sierra Club and they may be left at Robertson-Drago Funeral Home.