Goff Clark Cockran, Jr 1920 ✠ 2017

It should not come as a shock that so many of today’s young people are “snowflakes,” cowering in “safe spaces,” unable to cope with the realities of daily life. Just look at their heroes and heroines—narcissistic pop stars and self-absorbed movie actors and television personalities.

There is very little laudable about such role models unless one is impressed by half-baked ideas and displays of gross self-indulgence.

By contrast, children of the post-Second World War generation had heroes and heroines who were genuinely worth emulating.

They were folks who had courageously and selflessly served their country and communities—not for accolades and renown, but because it was simply the right thing to do.

In the main, they weren’t famous “personalities”—though movie stars and entertainers like James Stewart, Lee Marvin, Captain Kangaroo, and Mr Rogers were among their number.

Mostly they were mothers and fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and people who lived down the street and around the corner.

They were just ordinary folks. But their sacrifices on the battlefield and the home front preserved us a nation, and their modesty about their achievements served as the model for our own behavior.

They were people whose response to adversity was action. They weren’t given to whining and self-pity. They simply rolled up their sleeves and got to work.

The founders of St Stephen’s were drawn largely from this generation and many of them had distinguished wartime careers.

A number had stormed the beaches at Normandy as members of the U.S. Army’s 29th division. Others had fought in the Battle of the Bulge or had served in the U.S. Army Air Corps.

Over the years we have paid a fond, albeit sad, farewell to so many of them that the loss of long time parishioner Goff Clark Cockran, Jr. leaves their ranks sadly depleted.

Born in Baltimore in 1920, Clark was a graduate of Baltimore Polytechic Institute and Johns Hopkins University.

He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1943, serving first as a pilot instructor and then as skipper of a B-24-Bomber. After the war, he flew a C-47 transport carrying cargo from Anchorage Alaska to the Aleutian Islands.

Retiring from the service in 1949, he joined the Rehrig Radio and Television School as an instructor, leaving in 1952 for the Bendix Radio Field Engineering Division to work as a radar field engineer, ultimately rising to Chief Field Engineer.

He left the company in 1968 when Bendix relocated the division to Florida and opened his own electronics parts business in Baltimore County. Ten years later he was appointed regional manager of American Bankers Insurance Company. He retired in 1985.

Clark had a vast spectrum of interests that spanned golf, photography, and video production. He was an avid Baltimore Colts fan and a member of the American Legion Towson Post.

At the age of 77, he took up flying again: After qualifying for an FAA Private Pilot’s License, he became a Captain in the Civil Air Patrol. Not content with this, he taught himself to play the organ.

To the last, he was utterly irrepressible. He adored good old-fashioned hymns and he sang them lustily, albeit slightly off key. As he customarily occupied the front pew on the Gospel side, his vocal offering occasionally presented something of a challenge to both choirmaster and choir.

He was similarly devoted to bridge although his laid back style of play sometimes drove his partners to distraction—much to the amusement of the onlookers.

In short Clark was one of the parish’s great characters. He will be sadly missed not just by his daughter Patricia C. Kaiser and a host of grandchildren and great grandchildren, but by his fellow parishioners—in particular the ladies whom he treated fondly and with great courtliness. GPH✠

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