Known as the humble farmer, Stephen T. Cockerham, 79, forty-year resident of Riverside, CA, passed away on December 30, 2018, at Riverside Community Hospital following complications from treatment for melanoma.
Steve was born on February 19, 1939, in Elwood Indiana, to Theodore and Inez Cockerham. He has one younger sister, Joyce Valley (Duane), who lives in Pelican Rapids, Minnesota. He was preceded in death by his son, Garrett Charles in 1985 and by his parents.
Steve graduated in 1961 from Purdue University as an agronomist in turfgrass science. He earned an MS in Turfgrass Science from New Mexico State University and an MBA from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. He had an amazing 56 year career in turfgrass-related endeavors including 30 years consulting with the LA Coliseum beginning with the 1984 Olympics, assisting with the design of the Bank One Ballpark (Chase Field) in Arizona in the mid 1980s, and ensuring the quality of the multiple playing fields used for the 1994 World Cup. For five years (1979-1983) he was a farmer in Perris, CA with his own sod farm. From 1983 through 2009 he served at the University of California at Riverside as Superintendent of Agricultural Operations. During his tenure there he conducted extensive research with his colleagues, especially Dr. Victor Gibeault, his best friend. His technical professional writing was highly valued in journals and books.
Steve served as a Peace Corps volunteer in El Salvador from 1962-64 where he met his wife of 54 years, Barbara, who was serving as a missionary secretary. They enjoyed spending time with other volunteers and driving around in a little blue jeep.
Steve is survived by his wife, Barbara, and their son, Fernando Gabela, and wife Alicia, and two granddaughters, Jessica and Jackie, who reside in Diamond Bar. Steve also leaves to cherish memory, exchange student, Franz Leforestiere, who resides with his family in Miami. His niece Jodie also lives nearby in Norco. Nephews Scott and Randy reside in Minnesota. He has innumerable grand nieces and nephews in Minnesota as well. Also an integral part of the family system includes Laurie McLaughlin, Barbara’s sister, and her daughters, Erin (Josh), Meaghan (Tony), and Kate (Matthew) and their children. Laurie lives two houses away from the Cockerham’s.
Steve loved to travel and a trip to Hawaii was planned for the spring. His favorite travel destinations were southwest US areas such as the Four Corners. A recent valued moment was enjoying the Skywalk at the Grand Canyon. His hobbies included golf, photography, Purdue sports, reading and music: country to classical, He was noted for his dry wit and sense of humor.
Funeral arrangements are entrusted to Garden of Prayer, Acheson and Graham, 7944 Magnolia Avenue, Riverside, CA. Visitation will be 5 - 7 pm on Wednesday, January 2nd at Garden of Prayer. Services will be held at 4:00 pm on Thursday, January 3, with a reception immediately following. The burial will be conducted at Olivewood Cemetery on Central Avenue on January 14 at 10:00 am.
Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.AchesonandGraham.com for the Cockerham family.
Barbara Jean CockerhamWife
Steve also leaves to cherish his memory numerous nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews.