Charles C. “Chuck” Cochran — a veteran railroader known for his careful training of new locomotive engineers and who was also an avid collector of baseball memorabilia — died of heart failure May 4 at Halifax Health Hospice in Port Orange, Florida. The longtime Northeast Baltimore resident was 90.
“I’ve known Chuck since 1974 when I joined Conrail and we became good friends,” said Harry C. Bowie III, a retired MARC engineer. “If you’re asked to train somebody, they just don’t ask anyone to do that and he was highly-respected. There are still a few out on the road that he trained still doing it.”
Charles Carroll Cochran, son of John R. Cochran Sr., a farmer and milkman, and Julia A. Lynch Cochran, a schoolteacher, was born and raised in Monkton.
A Bel Air High School graduate, he worked for auto repair shop Kunkle Service in Bel Air before joining the Army in 1953, where he served in France until being discharged in 1955.
In 1953, he married the former Shirley R. Tracey.
From 1956 to 1970, Mr. Cochran was the owner of Cochran’s Cities Service Station, later Citgo, in Overlea.
After selling his business, he worked various jobs from 1970 to 1972, when he joined Conrail and became a locomotive engineer.
“He worked between Baltimore and Enola Yard in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and also at Bayview Yard in Baltimore,” Mr. Bowie said.
Steve Strachan, who was then Conrail’s road foreman of engines and in charge of the engineers’ training program, selected Mr. Cochran to train new engineers.
“I was talking to Steve the other day and he told me the reason why he chose him to be a trainee was because he, ‘Got his trains over the road without trouble or controversy,’” Mr. Bowie said.
Mr. Strachan did not respond to a request for comment.
Mr. Strachan, who later became an Amtrak vice president and nationwide head of transportation, told Mr. Bowie what also influenced his selection was that Mr. Cochran was a “reliable person, always on time, and did his job well. You are what we want other engineers to do.”
“Chuck trained them to run a conservative train at speed. He taught them where the grades were and how to control a train without using your brake a lot,” said Mr. Bowie
“He worked almost every call and worked an an ungodly number of both days and nights,” Mr. Bowie said. “He was a very hardworking man who had my respect.”
The Rosalie Avenue resident retired in 1994.
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Mr. Cochran was a dedicated collector of baseball hats with a collection that grew to more than 3,000.
Other collecting interests included model trains, railroad inspired decanters and miniature liquor bottles from all over the world, which joined his permanent collection after he consumed their contents, family members said.
Other items included T-shirts gathered from his travels and jokes, which he dutifully recorded on paper.
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He liked summertime crab feasts, cocktail parties and poker nights.
Mr. Cochran and his wife spent 28 winters in Sarasota, Florida, and for the last three years at Ponce Inlet, Florida, where two of their daughters reside.
One of his favorite places to visit was a second home in what he called Estate Woods in Fallston, where his son and grandchildren had cleared paths through the woods and restored an old cabin.
He was a member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and the American Legion.
Mr. Cochran was a longtime communicant of St. Michael the Archangel Roman Catholic Church in Overlea, where he was a charter member of the Knights of Columbus.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at Saint Mark Roman Catholic Church, 2407 Laurel Brook Road, Fallston.
In addition to his wife of 70 years, Mr. Cochran is survived by a son, Richard C. Cochran of Bel Air; three daughters, Regina A. Michael and Carolyn T. Seidel, both of Ponce Inlet, Florida, and Brenda T. Herr of Hockessin, Delaware; a brother, Stanley Leo Cochran of Towson; a sister, Julia Agnes Neuman of Cincinnati; 18 grandchildren; and 22 great-grandchildren. Another son, Charles C. Cochran Jr., died in 1954.