Photo: Principal, Rio Vista Elementary, 1985-1986
March 23, 2019
1 p.m. - 2 p.m.
Eternal Valley Memorial Park Mortuary
23287 N. Sierra Highway
Newhall, California 91321
Longtime Santa Clarita Valley resident Russell T. "Russ" Cochran actively affected the lives of seniors, children, alcohol and drug abusers, domestic violence victims, and musicians since the 1970s.
He was born in Ontario, CA, on March 27, 1932. He lived mainly in foster homes until he was 15 when he moved in with his aunt and uncle. During his time in foster care, he was a ward of the court, and a judge gave Russ a violin and paid for lessons for him to make sure he was active and not running the streets. That began his music career in Kings County — singing in choirs and playing in symphony orchestras as he matured into adulthood.
He was a pilot in his younger years and earned a living as an aircraft mechanic. He enlisted in the Army in 1950 and served as a combat medic in Japan until he was released in 1952. He never finished high school but earned his GED, attended Chafee College and Long Beach State, and subsequently obtained his PhD in School Administration from USC.
He began his school administration career in 1955 serving as teacher and principal in numerous elementary schools in Barstow, San Leandro, Hanford and Saugus until he retired in June 1992 after 24 years in the Saugus Union School District.
His community involvement included:
- Founder and President of the Santa Clarita Valley Community Health Council, 1972 (with assistance of business leaders in the community who realized there was a lack of medical services in the Santa Clarita Valley)
- County Mental Health, 1972-1974: Initiation and development of a Grant to fight Substance Abuse in SCV
- Founder and President of Board of Directors, Santa Clarita Valley Coalition on Substance Abuse
- Founder of the COC Symphony Orchestra
- Board of Directors, SCV Boys & Girls Club
- Board of directors of Child & Family Center
- Founder of SCV Senior Center
- President of Board of Directors of Committee on Aging
- Board of Directors of North L.A. County Coalition on Substance Abuse
- Chairman of Newhall Advisory Board for Urban Development
- Member of Interagency Task Force on Substance Abuse for L.A. County
- Member of Alcohol Task Force for L.A. County
- United Way Budget Committee Region I, North L.A. County
As a result of his community involvement, he met Barbara Stearns in 1973, and they married in Las Vegas in 1996. They played golf, loved music, traveled to dozens of countries, enjoyed European river boat cruises, rode motorcycles, went glider flying and treasured Friday dinners with friends. He was a member of the Elks and the Old Farts Flying Club, a model airplane club. He built and flew model airplanes for over 40 years.
Russ adored Barbara's children, Chuck (deceased), Diedre and Scott, and they have six grandchildren and six great grandchildren living in Palmdale and Virginia.
After a doctor diagnosed Russ with pneumonia on January 16 during a house-call visit, he was admitted to the hospital. In late February, while still in Henry Mayo Hospital, when Barbara told Russ she was going to donate $10,000 in his name to the SCV Senior Center, Russ was too weak to talk, but approved the action with a smile. She made this announcement at the Senior Center's Celebrity Waiter Dinner.
Russ passed away peacefully four days later, on February 27, one month shy of turning 87. The donation was a final fitting gesture for a quiet, private man who had not only given life to the Senior Center but also to many other causes in this community.