Vale (Denis) John Cochrane

It was with great sadness that we received news of the death of our esteemed member, John Cochrane, on 14 February 2017, after a short and sudden illness.  He is survived by his mother and sister.  Funeral masses were held at St Mary’s Cathedral, where he was a member of the choir, on 23 February, and at Christ Church St Lawrence on the following day.  There were some fine tributes to John and photographs in the Sydney Morning Herald obituaries during that week.

John gained his degree from UNE and is best remembered for having taught Latin and French at Blue Mountains Grammar from 1983-86, Ravenswood 1987-89 and St Aloysius 1990-2003, where he served some time as Head of Languages.  Those of us who knew John remember him as a fine academic whose greatest passion lay in the field of Medieval French.  After many years of devoted research, his efforts came to fruition when he graduated from the Australian Catholic University in 2014 with a PhD, his thesis being upon the life of St Dominic. 

John always found classroom teaching and school administration a challenge and his fine academic knowledge was sadly often lost on his students.  He was happiest and most comfortable in the State Library continuing his research into the lives of the saints, which occupied him until his untimely death.

John was a quiet, unassuming man who never desired to be centre stage; in fact, he shunned attention.  He could certainly be regarded as eccentric and was sometimes misunderstood because of it.  I remember how he would arrive at school every day by train (he never held a driver’s licence) with his folding umbrella in the same Grace Bros bag.  One day, he was so late for school, without making contact (before mobile phones!), that everyone was really concerned.  It seemed that he had fallen asleep on the train and woken up in the rail yards at Redfern where he had to make his way across the tracks to the platform!  The vagaries of modern life troubled him; he did not enjoy good health.

Although John lost touch with the CLTA after giving up teaching, he was a regular attendee at meetings and conferences over the years and will be remembered fondly by all of us who knew him. 

Heather Powell