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Theresa Cochran

April 11, 1932 – March 8, 2024

Wife of Pastor James D. Cochran, Theresa Murphy Cochran, age 91, of Ypsilanti Michigan, died on March 8, 2024. She died peacefully in Denver, CO surrounded by family.

Theresa Murphy was born in Detroit, Michigan on April 11, 1932 to Robert and Ruth Hazel (Posey) Murphy of Detroit, Michigan. She began her education in the Detroit public schools, she completed her primary and secondary education in Belleville, Michigan. In the 8th grade, she gave a speech as a top student in her class. She graduated from Belleville High School, in 1950.

After graduating high school, Theresa attended nursing school and graduated at the top of her class at the Ann Arbor Practical Nurses Education Center. Due to racist practices, Theresa did not receive the traditional scholarship to the University of Michigan School of Nursing that other top graduates received. After graduation, Theresa began working at Beyer Hospital in Ypsilanti.

While living and working in Ypsilanti, MI, Theresa met her future husband, Rev. Dr. James Daniel Cochran (Retired Elder), a student at the University of Michigan on December 31, 1954. They were united in holy matrimony at Bethel AME Church of Ann Arbor, MI on Saturday, August 25, 1956, and celebrated a wonderful 65 years of marriage. This union was blessed with 3 daughters, Theresa “Marie”, Donna, and Janet.

After their marriage, Theresa worked in Hospitals while James was a student at Wilberforce University, in Xenia, Ohio and the Methodist Theological School of Ohio, in Delaware, Ohio. Theresa supported James as he began his formal ministry within the Methodist Church and was a vital part of his ministry for the following thirty-five years. Theresa and James were active in the Civil Rights Movement, and the Fight for Social Justice.

Upon moving to Detroit, Theresa resumed her studies at Wayne County Community College where she received an associate degree. She obtained additional education at the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts (now the College for Creative Studies). In 1975 Theresa received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Education from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. Theresa began her career in Education, as a student teacher and substitute in the Detroit Public Schools.

In 1976, James and Theresa moved their family to Lansing, Michigan. Lansing would serve as the family home base until her retirement. While in Lansing, Theresa earned tenure in the Lansing Public School District and became a Title I teacher, and eventually obtained her goal of serving as a Junior High School Art Teacher. Along the way, in 1980, Theresa earned her master’s degree in education at Michigan State University, in East Lansing Michigan. Theresa retired from teaching in 1994.

Upon her retirement from the Lansing School District, Theresa became more actively involved in the United Methodist Women, and Church Women United; serving as local president of her circle and chapters. She also enjoyed traveling throughout the U.S. and abroad.

Theresa lived her faith. Theresa never stopped studying the word of God. She participated in prayer chains and continuously spoke of her life’s blessings. Additionally, she generously donated to several charities (in the U.S. and abroad). At the time of her transition, Theresa had no fear, and served as a model for her family, particularly her daughters who were all with her at the end. 

Those left to continue the celebration of Theresa’s life are her children, Theresa “Marie” (Sylvester) Thabit, of Denver, Colorado Donna (Conrad) Harrow, of McDonough, and Janet Cochran, of Arlington, VA. Theresa also leaves 5 grandchildren, Robert W. McFarlin, IV, of Arlington, VA; Sylvester J. Thabit, of Denver, Theresa Lahine “Sister” Thabit, of Sacramento, CA and Angelica (Henry) Thabit-Allanemeh, of Denver/Abuja, Nigeria; and Brittanie Harrow, of Ocean Springs, MS. She also leaves behind a great-grandson, Zion Nico Allanemeh, of Denver/Abuja. She is survived by a sister-in-law, Neila Murphy, of Xenia, Ohio and a host of nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Preceding Theresa in death were her husband, James Daniel Cochran, and her parents Robert and Ruth Murphy. Theresa was also predeceased by her older brothers, Charles (Sonny) Posey, and Robert Murphy, Jr and Frank Murphy. Also preceding her in death were her three younger sisters, Christine Murphy, Elsie Belle Martin, and Henrietta Shoats Watt; and her sister-in-law, Lilian Posey, and 2 nieces.

Theresa was known for her hospitality. She opened her home to many family members, or friends of her daughters when they needed a safe place to reside. Her openness and warmth led to informal adoptions by individuals across the country and around the world.

According to her wishes, Theresa was laid to rest in a private ceremony, at the Great Lakes National Cemetery, Holly, MI., with her husband. A memorial service will be held for family and friends later. Funeral arrangements were made by Crane Funeral Home, Romulus, Michigan.

In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory can be given to The American Kidney Foundation, Dialysis Patient Citizens, or Church Women United.

Condolences may be sent to Mrs. Theresa Thabit. On behalf of the Cochran Family, we would like to thank you for all the cards, prayers, and support.

Last Updated on April 8, 2024

The Michigan Conference