Dr. Paul Everett Cochrane

Dr. Paul E. Cochrane

Dr. Paul Everett Cochrane, longtime family physician based in Fitchburg, Mass., passed away on Christmas Day after a long battle with dementia. He was 90 years old. He leaves behind an impressive legacy of leadership in health care and public service.

Dr. Cochrane was born in Fitchburg, Mass., on Sept. 9, 1929, to Harold and Eleanor (Everett) Cochrane. A 1947 graduate of Fitchburg High School, he brought his love of football to Middlebury College, where he was a pre-med biology major. He often told his football stories and never missed a Fitchburg High School home football game, even this fall. He loved watching the games at Crocker Field and on Fitchburg Access TV.

After college, Paul married his high school sweetheart, Judith Buck. They celebrated their 67th wedding anniversary this past summer at the family cottage in Rindge.

Then came medical school at Tufts University, where he honed his craft. He returned to Fitchburg to practice family medicine, opening his practice in 1958. He retired in 2000 with one of the largest practices in Fitchburg and after having delivered approximately 3,500 babies. His patients were extremely important to him, and he treated them all with kindness, respect, a gentle humor and a ready smile. House calls were a regular part of his practice. His contributions to the medical field were many, but he was most proud of a few. He was among the first physicians to recognize the traumatic effects caused to athletes who endured concussions while playing different sports. In Fitchburg, he served for many years as the Chairman of the Board of Health, served as a trustee for the First Parish Sundial senior community, and for Fitchburg Savings Bank, and was president of the medical/dental staff of Burbank Hospital and chairman of quality assurance. At the state level, Dr. Cochrane served as the President of the Massachusetts Academy of Family Physicians and worked to establish a required board examination for family physicians every five years. He was very proud to be a board-certified physician — he took his final exam at 65 years old. He was chair of the Massachusetts Medical Society’s Committee on Sports Medicine. Together with Dr. Robert Babineau Sr., Dr. Cochrane was instrumental in bringing the UMass Family Practice Residency program to Fitchburg, in which his granddaughter, Dr. Kate Cosgrove, is now a resident. He was named Family Physician of the Year by the Massachusetts Medical Society in 1997. In addition, Dr. Cochrane represented his profession at the national level as a charter member and elected Executive Board member of the American Academy of Family Physicians. It was very important to him to be involved in policy making, and to be able to help family practice grow.

His happiest days found him on the sidelines of Crocker Field as the Fitchburg High School team physician, a post he held proudly for 50 years. FHS held a special place in his heart. He was in the first class of inductees to the FHS Hall of Fame, and never missed a Class of 1947 reunion.

Dr. Cochrane leaves: his wife, Judith; son Lee Cochrane and his wife, Pat, of Salem; daughters: Pamela Merrow and her husband, Robert, of Keene, and Kim Cochrane and her husband, Fred, of Fitchburg, Mass. He also leaves his sister, Barbara Nicholson, and several nieces and nephews. He leaves six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

The family would like to thank Dr. Robert Babineau Jr., Sunrise of Leominster (Mass.) and the members of the Foster Wing staff at UMass Memorial HealthAlliance — Leominster Campus for their kindness, support and dedication during these last few weeks.

The family encourages donations in Dr. Cochrane’s memory to one of three organizations: Fitchburg High School Alumni Association (AAOFHS, Inc., P.O. Box 906, Fitchburg, MA 01420, with “Dr. Paul Cochrane” in the memo section); Fitchburg Public Library; or the Fitchburg Community Health Center. Brandon Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.