Leon McKinley Cochrane Sr., transitioned from this life to eternal life, early in the morning on October 6, 2019 in Apex, North Carolina. He had just turned 93, two days prior. Leon was born in Brockway, New York on October 4, 1926. He was the youngest and last living child of the late Frank George Cochrane and Lulu Palmore Cochrane. Leon grew up in a close community in Brockway, New York. As a young child he suffered from Poliomyelitis. Although he was unable to walk for some time, he was miraculously healed and went on to lead a physically active life, as a star athlete through high school and playing competitive baseball as a member of local teams into his 70’s. He graduated from Beacon High School and from there he went on to Howard University where he received a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. He was named “the brain” of his graduating class. He was older than most of his classmates because his college education was interrupted by service in the United States Army during the Korean conflict. He was stationed in Germany instead of Korea as a result of a missed bus. While in college at Howard University he met Mary Jo Alice Dula from Hickory, NC and the two wed in 1954. After graduating from college, Leon was hired by IBM as the fifth black engineer hired, (his brother Harry being the first) and moved his young family back to his hometown in the Hudson Valley. He was a Senior Associate Engineer and worked on semiconductors back when digital technology was in its infancy. After 35 years at IBM, her retired. In addition to his long career, he was actively engaged in his community. He was the first African American elected to the City of Beacon Board of Education and subsequently served as its chair. He had a lifelong passion for sports, particularly baseball. He was a die hard Yankees fan, but also a fan of other NY teams such as the Giants and the Knicks. He loved music and he sang as well as played the tenor saxophone. He was self taught and at one point he was offered the opportunity to travel with a jazz band. He did not want to leave his family, so he declined. Leon was predeceased by his wife of 36 years, Mary Jo Alice (Dula) Cochrane, his parents and six brothers and sisters. He is survived by his children; Leon Cochrane Jr. of Philadelphia, PA, Sandra Cochrane Blakney and her husband Ben of Cary, North Carolina, Karen Cochrane-Brown and her husband Ed also of Cary, North Carolina, Alan Dula and wife Willardean Jordan Dula of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and grandchildren LaTrinda Williams, Lakisha Dula, Ariel Cochrane-Brown, Jared Blakney, Jasen Blakney and Joseph Cochrane-Brown, as well as many nieces, nephews and cousins.
Wake: Monday October 14, 2019 from 6-8 pm at Star of Bethlehem Baptist Church, 139 Main Street, Beacon, NY.
Visitation: 10:00 AM, Tuesday October 15, 2019, preceding the funeral service at the church.
Funeral Service: 11:00 AM, Tuesday, October 15, 2019 at Star of Bethlehem Baptist Church, 139 Main Street, Beacon, NY.
Interment: Fishkill Rural Cemetery, 801 U.S. Route 9, Fishkill NY. 12524 immediately following the funeral service
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