Carolyn Cochran

Carolyn S. "Cally" Cochran, a civic activist who embraced liberal causes and was an outspoken advocate of educating the public on population growth, died Thursday of complications from Alzheimer's disease at the Broadmead retirement community in Cockeysville, where she had been a founding board member. She was 89.

Born Carolyn Sizer in Boston and raised in New Haven, Conn., she attended Bennington College and met her future husband, Alexander S. Cochran, while he was a student at Princeton University. They married in 1936, and while he was a graduate student in architecture at Harvard, she began a tradition of fixing impromptu meals that included fellow students and other friends.


After moving to Baltimore after World War II, Mrs. Cochran said she "cried for the first two years," according to a 1992 biographical sketch her daughter wrote. "Having been so unwelcomed by Baltimore society, she turned around and welcomed newcomers who were contributing to Baltimore."

"It took my mother some time to find her own social niche among the old-time conservatives of the city," her daughter, Caroline Cochran Boynton of New York City, wrote in a booklet for Mrs. Cochran's 75th birthday. "Her style of entertaining was informal, frequent and large. And she was now among those whose style was formal, unspontaneous and less inclusive."


Her husband soon designed a modern home at 901 W. Lake Ave. that was featured in the January 1951 issue of House and Garden magazine -- a house later acquired and demolished by Boys' Latin School for its campus. Her living room accommodated about 60 people -- and she became known for her parties with racially and ethnically diverse guests.

"There were name tags written in Dad's handwriting on index cards with straight pins, and Mum frequently had people stay after cocktail parties and would serve homemade soup, cheese, crackers, and homemade cookies for dessert," her daughter said.

A Democrat, she supported presidential candidate Adlai E. Stevenson -- and held a fancy mock inaugural "bawl" at her home on the night of Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower's 1953 inauguration.

She joined the Citizens Planning and Housing Association and its push for indoor plumbing for all Baltimore homes in the 1950s. She also became a volunteer with Planned Parenthood of Maryland and spent more than 30 years speaking primarily to public school groups about population growth.

"Demography is not numbers, it is concerned with individual human beings," she wrote in a 1981 Evening Sun op-ed page article. "Learning new demographic facts can give children the freedom to choose any position that will help them manage their finite and precious world with twice as many inhabitants."

A memorial service will be held at noon March 29 at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, 5601 N. Charles St., where she was a communicant.

Survivors also include two sons, Alexander S. Cochran of Alexandria, Va., and Gill Cochran of Annapolis; a brother, Theodore R. Sizer of Cambridge, Mass.; two sisters, Hilda S. Warner of Washington and Elizabeth S. Allen of Redding, Conn.; 11 grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren. Her husband died in 1989. A son, Theodore S. Cochran, died in 2002.

For the record

An obituary in Wednesday's editions for civic activist Caroline Sizer "Cally" Cochran incorrectly stated the date of her memorial service. It will take place at noon March 31 at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, 5603 N. Charles St. The Sun regrets the error.