Norma Jean (Riley) (Keyes) Cochran
- April 9, 2023
Norma Jean (Riley) (Keyes) Cochran
Norma Jean (Riley) (Keyes) Cochran, 89, passed away on March 31, 2023, at her daughter’s home in Iowa City, after a short illness. She was born in Mountain Grove, Mo., on July 6, 1933, to Thomas E. and Leota (Adams) Riley. Her father was killed in World War II during the Battle of the Bulge.
After her father’s death, Jean and her younger sister, Lois, lived with their grandparents when their mom went to find work in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Leota later married Charles Keyes, then Norma and her sister moved to Cedar Rapids to join them and eventually had a brother, Larry Keyes.
Jean graduated from McKinley High School and found work as an elevator operator and as a leather crafter at the Saddle & Leather Shop in the Czech Village. She was able to buy a horse, which she boarded at Vern Upmeyer’s outside of Solon. She met the “Cochran girls,” Ruby and Dorothy, who lived up the hill, around the corner, and down the road from there. It was through her friendship with Ruby and Dorothy that she met their oldest brother, Dale Stanley Cochran, whom she married on March 3, 1957.
On Christmas day, 1957, they welcomed their first daughter, Beverly and then on New Year’s Day, 1959, they welcomed their second daughter, Cindy. Darla joined the family in September 1960, along with a son, Joel, in March 1962, and daughter, Kathy, would round out the family in June 1970.
Norma was a strong woman who endured many hardships in her life. She and Dale’s home burned to the ground and the family were all lucky to make it out alive. She was a two-time cancer survivor and, among other things, she has also endured scarlet fever, a broken jaw and a broken back.
Dale and Jean farmed in the North Liberty/Tiffin/Coralville area until 1980. While tending to the farm, Jean also enjoyed working in housekeeping at Mercy Hospital in Iowa City, especially in the Emergency Department there. She loved their potlucks and would bring in homemade ice cream or would walk down to Pagliai’s on her break and pick up a pizza.
After she lost Dale to cancer in 1989, she moved to California to be near family, especially her grandchildren. She loved the weather and not having to shovel after a snowstorm.
She enjoyed spending time with her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She was even known to be a goalie at her grandkids’ soccer practices! Her hobbies included riding horses (especially her horses Beauty and Candy), gardening, cooking and baking, sewing, leather tooling and other arts and crafts and going to movies and the casino. Although she wasn’t able to travel as much as she would have liked, in her retirement years she was able to do some traveling with her grown children and grandchildren. She especially enjoyed her Alaskan cruise, the trip to Mexico where she swam with the dolphins and saw whales and her trips to Hawaii that she cherished so much.
She is survived by her five children, Beverly (Russell) Tang, Cindy (Lou Becker) Cochran, Darla (Greg) Gierczak, Joel Cochran and Kathy Cochran; nine grandchildren, Melissa (Brock) Killion, Katie (Eduardo Nunez Rodriguez) Nuñez, Charles Thomas (Cynthia) Tang, Karen (Chuck) Oberman, Nicole (Matthew) Molloy, Timothy Yetter, Lucas (Samantha) Yetter, Amber (Kevin) Dewey and Cory Gierczak; 15 great-grandchildren, Logan and Colvin Killion, Nevaeh and Acacia Sloan, Jayden and Gabriel Nuñez, Lilliana and Sora Tang, Dakoda (Denise) and Cheyenne Flory, Daniel and Lilyanna Molloy, Solen and Lila Yetter, and Clara Dewey; one sister, Lois Hay and her children, Carroll (Bill) Hawkins, Kay (Don) Dunn and David (Katy) Keyes, and their children and grandchildren; one brother, Larry (Linda) Keyes, his children, Jeff (Kerri) and Shawn Keyes, and grandchildren; sister-in-law, Dorothy Cochran (Walter) Sahr, and her daughters, Monica Sahr (Rodrigo) Jullian and Suzanne Sahr (Luife) Nuñez, and grandchildren; and sister-in-law, Ruby (Bob) Jedlicka’s children, Renee (Tony Stubbs) Jedlicka, Roxane (Miles) Patton and Rick (Terri) Jedlicka, and grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her husband; her parents; brother-in-law, Charles Cochran; sister-in-law, Ruby Jedlicka; and grandsons, Mark Becker and Jordin Flory.
A Hawaiian-themed celebration of life will be held on April 15, 2023 at Palmer House Stable in Solon. Everyone is encouraged to wear Hawaiian attire; leis will be provided. Visitation will be from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., with services following. Interment will be held at 3 p.m. at Oxford Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the family c/o Cindy Cochran or to Iowa City Hospice.