William L. Cochran Sr, Oak Ridge

William L. Cochran Sr., age 86, passed away peacefully on May 3rd, 2024, at his home in Oak Ridge. Most people knew him by his nickname Deisel. He was born March 28, 1938, in the Leewood area of Cabin Creek, West Virginia. He was the fourth of five children born to Robert L. Cochran and Edna Hamilton Cochran. Throughout his life, he would maintain and claim that he had three hometowns, that he loved equally. Those hometowns were Cabin Creek (WV), Big Stone Gap (VA), and Oak Ridge (TN). Deisel often reminisced about his childhood and the mischief that he would partake in while growing up in a West Virginia coal camp. When he was eight years old, his family moved to Big Stone Gap, Virginia. During his high school years, he was a standout athlete in several sports. His favorite sport he played was without a doubt football, under the guidance of Coach Stoddard. Upon graduating from Big Stone Gap High School, in 1958, he joined the United States Navy.  

While serving in the Navy, from 1958 through 1962, he was stationed out of Jacksonville and Cecil Field. He was assigned to the USS Saratoga CVA-60 and was able to travel extensively throughout the Mediterranean. During his time, he met Bob Belvins, whom he considered a close friend for the remainder of his life.

After discharge from the Navy, he decided to move to the Johnson City, Tennessee area. He wanted to be close to several high school friends and begin his studies at East Tennessee State University.

 Shortly after coming to Johnson City, he met the love of his life, Judy Gibson, on a blind date. They were married in Boone, NC, in November of 1963. They were married for 59 years, at the time of Judy’s death, in April 2023. In 1963, Deisel began working for the Eastman Chemical Company, in Kingsport, TN. He would remain employed there until 1967. In 1967, Deisel, Judy, and their son named William “Bucky” L. Cochran Jr. moved to Judy’s hometown of Oak Ridge, TN.

He began working for Union Carbide, at the Oak Ridge National Lab. While at O.R.N.L. he met a fellow West Virginian, Chet Thornton, who would remain his lifelong friend. Deisel remained at O.R.N.L. until he transferred to the K-25 Gaseous Diffusion Plant, in the early 1970’s. Through the years, he would remain at the K-25 site working for various Department of Energy contractors, retiring in 1997. He retired from the Safety Division, as an Inspector.

Deisel was a person that disliked school yet enjoyed learning. Later in life, he returned to college, beginning at Roane State Community College. He then transferred to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He received his bachelor’s degree in education, in 1978 and his master’s degree in education, in 1988, both from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. His family always found it ironic that a person who disliked school so much would study education. However, he was a firm believer that any person can go back at any point in their life and obtain an education. For several years after retirement, he enjoyed working as a substitute teacher, in the Oak Ridge School District.
In addition to his son, Deisel and Judy had a daughter, Wendy Cochran. His family would later expand to include a son-in-law, Mike Schubert, and Deisel’s favorite (and only) grandson Morgan Schubert. 

He was preceded in death by his wife Judy Gibson Cochran, parents Robert and Edna Cochran, brothers Robert Cochran and Thomas Cochran, sister-in-law Roberta Cochran, father-in-law Millard Gibson and mother-in-law Grace Gibson.

He is survived by his son William L Cochran, Jr of Oak Ridge, TN. His daughter Wendy Cochran Schubert, son-in-law Michael Schubert, and grandson Morgan Schubert of Kingston, TN. His sister Florence (George) Geifer of Springfield Mo, sister Joyce (John) Wallis of Richmond, KY, and sister-in-law Jenny Cochran, of Chilhowie, VA. He is also survived by many nieces and nephews. Among them, he considered Connie Cochran Brewster, of Chilhowie, VA his favorite niece. His uncle and aunt Harold and Fern Schwisher of South Charleston, WV. Additional family members Carolyn Shoun and Leanne (Scott) Shoun of Mountain City, TN, Aaryn (Sam) Doane of Blountville, TN, Josh Sexton of Chilhowie, VA and Stephanie (Chris) Price of Kingston, TN. He is also survived by his loyal dog and companion, Missy.

The family would like to thank a few additional people that were important and made a difference, in the last few years, to Deisel’s life: Chet and Janet Thornton, Bob Blevins, Bob Krusen, Catrina Clayton-Lozano, The Tate family, Bill Moehl, Victoria Cooper, Nikki Ball, Shannon and Anna Marie (Amedisys Hospice).

Deisel wanted to be cremated and his ashes spread later. In lieu of flowers, Deisel requested donations be made to the Buccaneer General Fund, Mountain Empire Community College Foundation, 3441 Mountain Empire Road, Big Stone Gap, VA 24219, or online at www.meccfoundation.org/give. These scholarships help students from Big Stone Gap, VA to continue their education.

The family will receive friends and family on Friday, May 17th from 1 pm to 3 pm and a funeral to follow at 3 pm, at Mott-McKamey Funeral Home, in Oak Ridge. Reverend Ron Nickell and Reverend James Gutherie will be officiating.

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