Our mother, Helen Lovina Vergason Cochran, 93 years, 8 months, 7 days, passed February 15, 2020. She joined our father and her husband of 51 years, Clayton Andrew Cochran, our brother David Alan Cochran, and her sons-in-law Melvin Zwolle and Ron Messman. She was also preceded in death by parents Mary and Ernest Vergason; sisters Geraldine Stayer and Donna Piaquadio; brothers Clair, Darwin, Albert and Frank Vergason; brothers- and sisters-in-law respectively Ed Stayer and Mike Piaquadio, Mary Vergason, Shirley Priscilla and Ruth Vergason, brother John Bloomer, brothers-in-law Bill Cochran and Jack Culver, and sister-in-law Shirley (Joe) Priscilla.
Helen was born in Coudersport, PA June 8, 1926 and was raised on a farm in the general area of Galeton, PA. She worked in a Sylvania vacuum tube company during World War II after marrying Clayton on April 5, 1943. They started a family with son Clayton and daughter Cheryl. In 1949 they decided to move to Montana where some of Helen’s siblings were living. One of her favorite things to tell people is that she and dad, Clayton and Cheryl left Pennsylvania with $75 and their worldly possessions in a Chevrolet Coupe with the back seat full and the kids sleeping in the rear window area. They arrived in Montana with $25.
She was an avid bowler during the short time they lived in Glendive and Baker before moving to Lewistown, where they added daughter Becky and son Dave. Helen was well-known in Lewistown for her large babysitting service where she cared for many children. She loved a very clean and organized home and even with all the children there during the day, we felt you could eat off the floor!
Mother, dad and friends enjoyed playing poker, pinochle, hand and foot, and other games. Helen, after many years of owning a daycare, went on to work in a local café and at the Central Montana Hospital. Some of her talents included playing the piano by ear, playing the accordion and harmonica, and she was a very good yodeler. Our folks had a great time dancing as well.
The loss of our brother Dave on March 30, 1981, was such a tragedy, but our faith carried us through. After our father’s passing on May 31, 1994, she moved to Great Falls and eventually married Bob Messman. Together they enjoyed going to the senior center for meals and line dancing. Bob passed December 24, 1997, and Helen moved to Billings in March 1998. She enjoyed participating in many activities at the local South Side Senior Center. In the summer of 2018, she began getting books from the Billings Library Bookmobile. She would consistently read several books a week; we were amazed at how fast she read. Some books she enjoyed were about the Amish, American Folklore, the Early West, and Women of Alaska.
Our Lord and Savior were most important in her life, and she had strong feelings about taking care of each other and the life hereafter. Her next loves were her huge family of children, grandchildren, greats and great greats. She thought always about her sisters and brothers and numerous nieces and nephews that were mostly unseen due to the move to Montana, but never forgotten. Her favorite recent musicians were the High-Country Cowboys from the Red Lodge area, and in her last few days she would listen to their CDs and try to yodel along with them.
Helen Cochran is survived by children Clayton (Judith) Cochran, Cheryl Zwolle and Becky Messman, step-daughter Michaela Messman, brother Charles (Marilyn) Vergason and close niece Joyce (Paul) Hoffmann along with sisters-in-law Iris (Frank) Vergason, Carmelita (Bill) Cochran, and Phyllis (Jack) Culver.
Much loved: grandchildren Clay (Peggy) Cochran and his mother Cathy Cochran, Rick (Annie) Serlin, Andrea Serlin, Rosalie (Bart) McFadden, Michael Zwolle, Melodie Nicholson, Amanda Messman, Andrew Messman, Melinda (Kelly) Sauer. Great-grandchildren: Nathan (Cassie) Harrison, Naomi (Kevin) Hiatt and Amy (George) Stabilito. Kallie, Trevor and Katelund McFadden, Zachery Zwolle, Christa Masters, and David Zwolle, Jada and Jasmin Nicholson, Andy and Amelia Messman. Great-great-grandchildren: Austin, Audrey, and Adam Harrison, Logan and Kendall Hiatt, and Ethan Stabilito. Kameron McFadden, Joshua and Holley Hiltunen, and Waverly Shorey. Bryxton and George McFadden, and Sandra Davis. Matthew and Anthony Masters. Viviana and Amelia Serlin and Langan Fisher.
There are not enough words to thank Butterfly Homes Assisted Living for their wonderful loving care of our mother for more than 5 years. She enjoyed living at Butterfly, meeting other residents and interacting with the staff. We will never forget how well she was cared for and how happy she was there. Also, Riverstone Hospice staff; while their time was short with mother, they were caring and did the utmost to assist her at this time of her life.
Memorials may be made to the Riverstone Hospice House, American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society or to the organization or charity of your choice. Two services will be held late this spring, one in Billings and one in Lewistown.
Heights Family Funeral Home and Crematory is in charge of arrangements.