In Memory of James “Jim” Cochrane ’52

JAMES F. COCHRANE ’52 of Plymouth, Minnesota, died Dec. 11, 2021. At Ripon, he majored in economics, lettered in basketball and participated in Ver Adest and Theta Sigma Tau. He strongly supported Ripon, both financially and in alumni activities. He had a 40-year career in management with Illinois Bell Telephone Co. and lived in Lake Bluff, Illinois, for nearly 50 years. He and his wife retired to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, and then Plymouth, Minnesota, to be near family. Summers were spent at the family cottage on Gilbert Lake in Wild Rose, Wisconsin. He was active at First Presbyterian Church of Lake Forest, Illinois, including organizing and leading high school mission trips for 45 years. Survivors include three sons and one daughter; and a brother DAVID COCHRANE ’54. His wife, JOANNE KLAWITER COCHRANE ’51, died in 2019.

The full obituary can be viewed here:

James F. Cochrane, age 92, died December 11, 2021 in Plymouth, Minnesota.

Jim, as he was known to all, was born May 24, 1929 in Chicago, Illinois. With his father John, a Presbyterian minister, mother Elizabeth, and brothers John and David, Jim spent his early years moving among parishes across Illinois and Wisconsin. His memorable high school years were spent in Westfield, Wisconsin. A graduate of Ripon College, Jim majored in economics, lettered in basketball, and, most importantly, met his soul mate Joanne Klawiter, with whom he celebrated more than 66 years of marriage. Together, Jim and Jo remained ardent supporters of Ripon well into their retirement.

Jim and Jo settled for a short time in Northfield, Illinois, where Jim began a 40-year career in management with Illinois Bell Telephone Company. Later, they moved to Lake Bluff, Illinois – home for nearly 50 years – where they raised their four children. In later years, Jim and Jo retired to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin and then to Plymouth, Minnesota to be nearer to family. Summers were always spent together at the family cottage on Gilbert Lake in Wild Rose, Wisconsin.

Jim always put family and faith first in his life. He was always there to be a husband and father; to coach Little League baseball and organize Christmas tree sales; and to serve the church whatever the need. For 45 years, he was called to help organize and lead high school mission trips for the First Presbyterian Church of Lake Forest, Illinois, where the family belonged for many years. Countless lives were impacted across those years – generations of high school and adult travelers and many others who were served along the way. He epitomized servant leadership.

One of Jim’s greatest gifts was his ability to engage others and put them at ease. He had a rare ability to draw people out, learn their stories, and share in their joys and hardships. He was a great listener and became an important friend and mentor to many. We will miss his incomparable wit, his firm handshake, big bear hugs for children and grandchildren, and his ability to fill a room with his presence.

Jim leaves a rich legacy for his children and those who follow him. He is survived by his brother David (Carole) of Wild Rose, Wisconsin, his children Peter (Sandy) of Decorah, Iowa, Doug (Lisa) of Park City, Utah, Andy (Carolyn) of Edina, Minnesota, and Elizabeth Christinidis (Jon) of Grosse Pointe, Michigan, and by ten grandchildren.

A celebration of Jim’s life will be held at 2:00 on Saturday March 19th at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The service will also be live-streamed at Interment will be this summer at Springwater Cemetery in Wild Rose, Wisconsin.

Those wishing to honor Jim’s life are encouraged to make a gift in Jim’s name to the Ripon College Annual Fund (Ripon Fund), P.O. Box 248, Ripon, WI 54971.


Published by Chicago Tribune on Jan. 23, 2022.