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History

Established in 1928 | Growing with a Growing Community | Today

Established in 1928
Byrd-Cochran Mortuary in 1928 located at 1411 N. Lawrence Ave. (Now Broadway Ave.)
Byrd-Cochran Mortuary in 1928 located at 1411 N. Lawrence Ave. (Now Broadway Ave.)
 

I n 1898 Mary Evelena and William F. Cochran, Sr. purchased the home at 1411 North Lawrence. William, Sr., or "Fritz" as he was known, was the General Manager and Advertising Manager of Rorabaugh Dry Goods. He and his wife had one son, William F. Cochran, Jr. In 1928, Mary Evelena's sister, Alice and brother-in-law, Claude Byrd, Sr., joined Fritz in opening a funeral home. Mrs. Cochran and Fritz decided to remodel their 1896 Victorian home and Byrd-Cochran Mortuary was born.

Apparently it was not an easy endeavor. Family folklore says Mrs. Cochran required the contractor to build the walls around the existing windows and doors of the home, as she was not convinced that the mortuary was as viable an idea as the others. Thus, she wanted to ensure that she could put her home back together. The Cochrans had the second floor converted into an apartment for themselves while tending to the bereaved on the main floor.

Fritz's son, William F. Cochran, Jr. "Fred" and his wife Valma decided to join in the family business. This seemed natural, their connection to the Mortuary was so strong, they were married in the doorway of the chapel (Now Staterooms A, B and C.). They had one son, William F. Cochran, III.

During his career at Cochran Mortuary, Fred began an ambulance service. In that day and age, before EMS, it was common for the local funeral homes to operate an ambulance service as well. Still today, the Cochran family meet people who say they met Fred years ago while he was driving ambulances.

During the years of World War II, staff shortages and rations to support the war effort forced the family to take some unusual measures. Valma Cochran, Fred's wife, enrolled at the St. Louis College of Mortuary Science, earned a degree and became one of the first female funeral directors and embalmers licensed in the State of Kansas. Fred died in 1950 after a brief illness. Fred's son, William F. Cochran, III, attended Wichita University (now Wichita State University) and West Point Military Acadamy. After an illness in his second year at West Point, he enrolled in the St. Louis College and became the third generation of the family to become a funeral director and embalmer. Bill was married to Margaret Whitmer and together they had two daughters, Karen and Terri.




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