Robert S. Cochran Jr., 67, ran apparel companies

July 27, 2005

Robert Samuel Cochran Jr., former president of Flagg Brothers Shoes and Male Slacks and Jeans, died of a heart attack July 18 at a neighbor's Gibson Island home. He was 67.

Born in Washington and raised in Nashville, Tenn., he earned an electrical engineering degree from Virginia Military Institute and served in the Army's Special Forces. In 1961-62, he was a Green Beret officer in Laos, in a U.S. effort to raise an army to fight the Communists during the early period of what became the Vietnam War.

Family members said he was a paymaster and carried a sawed-off shotgun and as much as $5 million in cash to pay the salaries of newly conscripted troops.

After leaving military service, he worked for Genesco, a national apparel company in Nashville. He rose to become president of Flagg Brothers and several other Genesco shoe companies.

While he was president, Flagg Brothers introduced high-heeled shoes for men. Mr. Cochran was featured in a New York magazine article and on the CBS-TV game show, To Tell the Truth. His secret was unmasked by panelist Kitty Carlisle Hart.

In 1975 he moved to Atlanta as president of Male Slacks and Jeans and was later marketing manager at Days Inn of America. He was also a law firm administrator and a restaurant owner.

About a decade ago, Mr. Cochran retired to Gibson Island and was a former president of the Gibson Island Club.

An ocean sailor, he was vice commodore of the Gibson Island Yacht Squadron and a member of the Cruising Club of America. In 2002, he won a team trophy in an Annapolis-to-Bermuda sailing race.

Mr. Cochran built reproductions of 18th-century furniture.

Services were held Thursday.

Survivors include his wife of 22 years, Valerie Ann Shelton Cochran; a son, Robert Samuel Cochran III of Cape Elizabeth, Maine; two daughters, Courtenay Cochran Corrigan of Los Altos Hills, Calif., and Dr. Margaret Cochran Schlossberg of Baltimore; his mother, Amelia Weaver Cochran of Gibson Island; a brother, Dr. Thomas Brackenridge Cochran of Arlington, Va.; and seven grandchildren. His 1962 marriage to Margaret Marie Welsh ended in divorce.

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