Keeping Auburn in the familyPublished 12:26pm Saturday, March 30, 2013
“The Auburn Family” has included members of one local family for more than six decades – 35 people total.
Harold Cochran, a local State Farm agent, enrolled at Alabama Polytechnic Institute – what would later become Auburn University – in 1951 to study agricultural economics, beginning a tradition of Auburn students in his family.
“I grew up over in Coosa County on a farm,” Cochran said. “I realized there was a better way to make a living than row cropping.”
So after growing up in Marble Valley and going to school in Weogufka, Cochran continued his education in Auburn.
“It had 5,000 students when I started,” Cochran said. “The campus was not near as big as it is now. Biggin Hall was a new building. Thach Hall was a new building.”
Cochran said he worked his way through school by working at the men’s dining hall – “Me and three other guys washed dishes for 700 boys, three meals a day,” – and cutting hair in the men’s dorm.
“I had a cousin come down, and I taught him how to cut hair,” Cochran said. “He took over when I left.”
Cochran said he spent more time studying than socializing – “I had to – I wasn’t real smart,” Cochran said with a laugh. But he has also kept a number of memories with him since his Auburn days – the Midway Drive-in Theater, the “Sani-Flush” and the Wreck Tech pep rally and ball game.
Cochran graduated from API in 1956. After starting with a claims adjustment company in Atlanta, Cochran was drafted into the Army. Following a two-year stint in the Army, he was hired on with State Farm.
“I knew I wanted to be in sales,” Cochran said. “I’ve been with State Farm ever since.”
He transferred to Alexander City in 1960.
“I thought it was a great opportunity – I wanted to be in a smaller town,” Cochran said.
Since his own years at Auburn, the university has become the alma mater of several of his siblings, his son, in-laws, nieces and nephews and more.
“It’s rewarding,” Cochran said. “I’m proud for all of them.”