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Robert Cochran II was 87

by Tad Thompson | February 08, 2009
Robert Cochran II, a third-generation member of Robert T. Cochran & Co. Inc. on the Hunts Point Terminal Market and father of current President Richard Cochran, died Jan. 7 of natural causes. He was 87.

In a Feb. 2 interview with The Produce News, Richard Cochran described his father as "a big guy with a big booming voice. When he said 'hello' on the phone, everyone knew it was him. He was very punctual and he always called everyone at exactly the same time, every day. He was on all the [industry] boards and things the market did. He was always hopping with those things."

According to information provided by the firm, Mr. Cochran, who was known as Tom or Mike to the trade, was a graduate of Cornell University and served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II.

After the war, Mr. Cochran went to work for his father, Fletcher, at the company, which was then located at 366 Washington St. in Manhattan. He was president of the firm by the time it relocated to the Hunts Point market in the Bronx in 1967.

Joe Pellicone, who is involved in buying and sales at D'Arrigo Bros. Co. of New York Inc., knew Mr. Cochran for many years, dating back to when the market was located on Washington Street. Mr. Pellicone's father owned a trucking business, and he used to unload trucks at the market after school.

"I learned about the business by talking to the older guys on the market and watching how they dealt with customers," Mr. Pellicone told The Produce News Feb. 4. "He was a fine gentleman who had an easy way about him. He was in a league of his own."

Mr. Cochran served as president of the New York chapter of the United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association, was on the boards of the International Apple Association and the Perishable Food Industry Pension Fund, and helped move the market to Hunts Point from the Washington Street location.

In the 1950s, he appeared frequently on the Margaret Arlen radio show on CBS to promote fresh produce. He was heard on the radio in the 1970s doing "The Produce Minute" on WMCA in New York.

After retiring in 1984, he became an avid traveler, seeing most of the world and leaving Richard Cochran to run the company. Fifth-generation family member Michael Cochran, 27, now works with his father, Richard, to run the firm.

Robert Cochran is survived by his wife, a sister, five children, 13 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

At 116 years old, Robert T. Cochran & Co. is one of the older produce houses in the country.

(Joel Gebet contributed to this story.)