Age 97, Willard passed away on March 5, 2012. Born in a ranch house outside of Fresno, California he would relentlessly seek to "improve himself" through education and hard work. Raised on farms in California and Iowa, he would go on to become a noted and influential agricultural economist.
Coming of age in the Great Depression and having lost his father early in life, he sought economic and intellectual sustenance through an academic career. He was distinctly proud of his degrees at universities in California, Montana, and eventually a Ph.D. at Harvard. He would hold academic positions at the Universities of Minnesota and Penn State and briefly at the Universities of Wisconsin and Chicago. Dr. Cochrane authored six books and co-authored seven more. Willard also served as an ensign in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
Willard was most proud of his role first as a campaign advisor and speech writer for candidate John F. Kennedy. He served in the Kennedy Administration administering American farm policy. He sought passionately to preserve independent small farms and the farming way of life. As Chief Agricultural Economist in the Kennedy Administration he sought to aid farmers by stabilizing grain prices and developed the concept of food stamps.
Willard Cochrane was a spirited and life long advocate for the Democratic Party. He was an unflinching advocate for wild animals and wild places, particularly in the high country of the West. He endowed his family with a love of dogs, camping, reading, and geography.
Willard was preceded in death by Mary Herget Cochrane, his wife of 61 years, son Stephen, and special friend Alice Teigen. He is survived by sons: Wes (Susan), James (Lisa), and Tim (Jean), and daughter-in-law, Nan; seven grandchildren: Julie, Ryan, Laura, Daniel, Andy, Cory, and Maddy; two great grandchildren; and his beloved dog Maggie.
In lieu of flowers, memorials preferred to the Animal Humane Society (www.animalhumanesociety.org), or donor's choice. Memorial service will be held April 20, 2 pm, Cargill Building, St Paul Campus, U of MN.