Longtime local Tim Cochrane dies | VailDaily.com

Longtime local Tim Cochrane dies

EAGLE COUNTY – Tim Cochrane was consistent, and persistent, and he spent much of his adult life putting together parties for people.

And that’s why his party will go on as planned, Friday night at 4-Eagle Ranch, “A Great Western Fun… Raiser.”

Cancer took Cochrane’s life Sunday night, which is why the Friday night event is now a fundraiser to help his wife and children with the mountain of medical bills and living expenses. They’ll have a celebration of life Friday, May 27 at 11 a.m., in the Edwards Interfaith Chapel and Community Center.

People are alive who would not be if not for Tim Cochrane and others like him.

Cochrane was instrumental in forming Vail Mountain Rescue. Prior to that, calls went into various police agencies and results could be a hodge podge.

Cochrane was a Marine to his very marrow. He would not abide hodge podge and pulled Vail Mountain Rescue together through sheer willpower. He had a surplus of willpower.

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He served Vail Mountain Rescue in several ways for more than 30 years.

“There are a few people alive who would not be if we hadn’t been there,” said Dan Smith, who’s now helping run Vail Mountain Rescue.

It took two people to replace him when he stepped away, Smith said.

“Tim started this team. He ran it for 30-plus years,” Smith said. “At various times he was president, at various times operations manager. But was always the boss.”

Sitting with his family Monday afternoon, calls started rolling in from around the world. He helped replicate Vail’s success all over Europe, China, and about anywhere else on earth’s mountains people could get lost.

He brought the world to Vail for a mountain rescue convention a few years ago. In 2008, he took the family to Italy so they could be with him when the Italians honored him with a lifetime service award.

As long as we’re on the subject of rescuing people, Cochrane helped launch the Eagle County Ambulance District. Dr. Larry Brooks and Dr. Kent Petrie were among the founding members and medical directors.

The hospital, at that time, was having a hard time keeping its doors open and couldn’t afford to run an ambulance.

“It’s a big expense,” Brooks said. “They came up with a tax-supported solution so they’d have the basics covered, so everyone who needed help could get it. Tim Cochrane helped make that happen. Imagine how many lives have been saved because of that.”

He worked in the hospitality industry for years, running hotels in Vail and Eagle. He ran the Eagle Valley Chamber of Commerce and a similar organization in McCall, Idaho.

Tim Cochrane is one of those guys whose legacy is obviously much more than what he did for a living.

The ambulance district is building a new training center and they hope to honor him through that, Smith said.

Cochrane was 17 when he stretched the truth a little about his age. He had graduated high school early and wanted to join the Marines. The Marines believed him and he was in, even though he was supposed to be 18. That was 1967.

He spent four years in the Marines, and did two tours in Vietnam.

Cochrane was a staunch supporter of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post.

Tim met Betsy Cochrane in October 1977 when he was working the night shift at Vail’s Mark Resort and Tennis Club. She was working days because part of the compensation was all the tennis she could play – and Betsy can still play a lot of tennis.

You could say they were ships passing in the night – actually they were passing in the dawn – but Tim had no intention of letting her pass. It may not have been love at first sight, at least not for her, but for him it came on pretty fast.

A month after they met he asked her to marry him, then he asked again and again and again, until she said yes. He went home to meet her family in April, because it was Vail in the mud season and what else are you going to do?

They were married Oct. 7, 1978. Eight years later, three beautiful blonde girls started arriving: Erin, then Mary, then Megan, to join his daughter Tracie. He also has a grandson, Drake.

Tim was born in Cleveland, Ohio, to Doris and Thomas Cochrane, and the family soon moved to the Buffalo, New York, area. He claimed Orchard Park, N.Y., as his home town, home of the Buffalo Bills, who he occasionally argued were one of the best NFL teams ever, but that their timing was unfortunate.

He then did what any red-blooded resident of the Centennial State would do; he became a Broncos fan.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.