John R. Cochran Jr., former postmaster

John R. Cochran Jr., former Washington postmaster and a World War II veteran, died Wednesday of pneumonia at Stonegates Retirement Community in Greenville, Del. He was 87.

The son of a dairyman and a teacher, John R. Cochran Jr. was born in Monkton and raised in Taylor, Harford County.


After graduating in 1941 from Bel Air High School, he moved to Baltimore and went to work for the Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.

Drafted into the Army Air Forces in 1943, Mr. Cochran served as a radio operator and turret gunner aboard B-24 bombers in Europe as a member of the 376th Bomb Group of the 514th Squadron.

On Mr. Cochran's third combat mission, he survived a crash when his plane went down near Brindisi, Italy. He completed his 50th mission on Dec. 26, 1944, and was discharged in 1945.

He began his postal career in 1946 in Baltimore as a substitute mail clerk, and rose to hold management positions in Washington, Harrisburg, Pa., and the Postal Service's South Jersey District.

The former longtime East 30th Street resident was Washington postmaster from 1981 to 1987, and at the time of his retirement in 1990, was deputy director of the International Bureau of Postal Services in Washington.

After retiring from the postal service, he worked five years for DynCorp in York, Pa., and then was a postal consultant for a decade for MBNA Corp. in Wilmington, Del., where he had lived for the last 15 years.

Mr. Cochran enjoyed playing golf and traveling.

His wife of 62 years, the former Mary Frances Gugerty, died in 2007.

He was a member of the Knights of Columbus and St. Joseph on the Brandywine Roman Catholic Church, 10 Old Church Road in Greenville, where a Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. Friday.

Mr. Cochran is survived by four sons, John R. Cochran III of Wilmington, Lawrence J. Cochran of Omaha, Neb., Michael J. Cochran of Landenberg, Pa., and James G. Cochran of Frisco, Texas; four daughters, Mary Carol Cochran Davis of Baltimore, Kathleen Cochran Conneen of Castle Rock, Colo., Anne Cochran Partridge of Dublin, Ohio, and Rosemary Cochran Manganiello of Newark, Del.; three brothers, Charles Cochran of Parkville, Stanley Cochran of Baltimore and Thomas F. Cochran of Bel Air; two sisters, Dorothy Kranz of Sunnyside, Wash., and Julia Neumann of Cincinnati; 22 grandchildren; and 18 great-grandchildren.

—Frederick N. Rasmussen