On August 5, 2020, Randy Cockrell, of La Verne, CA, passed away suddenly, though surrounded by his family, at the age of 67 years old. The oldest of three brothers, Randy was born to the late Betty May Knoke and Dr. Beverly Randolph Cockrell Jr. on May 14, 1953 in Kyushu, Japan. He and his parents returned to the states when he was 6 weeks old following the completion of his father’s military commitment there. Initially living in Altadena, his family moved to Arcadia where he spent most of his growing up years. His father was an orthopedic surgeon whose practice was in Pasadena across from St. Luke’s Hospital. He and his brothers loved to share stories about spending time together with family and friends, enjoying their unique childhood homes and the surrounding areas with lots of mischief along the way.
The family’s Laguna Beach get away was also a source of fond memories. Trips to Tuolumne Meadows, camping with the YMCA, and a special family road trip for a destination cruise in Alaska formed a lifelong appreciation for spending time in nature. Randy graduated from Arcadia High School in 1971, attending college at San Diego State University where he graduated in 1979 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in both Nursing and Zoology. While pursuing his career as an intensive care nurse at Huntington Memorial Hospital, Randy continued his education, earning a Doctor of Chiropractic degree, graduating Magna Cum Laude at Los Angeles College of Chiropractic in 1985. He went on to complete postgraduate training as a Chiropractic Orthopedist. His work was primarily in the field of treating those who had been injured on the job.
While pursuing his chiropractic education Randy met his wife Carolyn, as a regular patron at the natural food store she was working in at the time. Soon after, Randy met Mariah, Carolyn’s daughter, while visiting the store for his staples. Mariah was 4 years old, and as he liked to tell it, she was wearing a pink leotard and tap shoes when he met her. Living in and loving the town of Sierra Madre, Randy and Carolyn married in Sierra Madre Canyon in 1984. Their daughter, Tasha, was born in 1986, also in Sierra Madre. In 1989, leaving their beloved town of Sierra Madre, they moved to La Verne’s old town area upon buying their first home. There the strong sense of community they enjoyed, the old town charm and love of historic houses prompted them to stay in the area when they bought their second and present home in 1999.
Randy thrived on routine. He started the day with 2 cups of coffee, cottage cheese and apple sauce, reading, meditation, and he ended it with a bowl of almonds, two bananas, the news, dinner, followed by bedtime. He was an early riser and early to bed guy who also enjoyed his naps.
Randy’s hobbies included music, reading, photography and hiking. While on his weekly hikes, he enjoyed talking with those he met along the way. He also enjoyed spending time with family. Over the years there were many wonderful memories created by gatherings with immediate and extended family and friends. Treasured moments included family reunions, vacations, camping and trips to spend special time with family in Julian, Oxnard, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Laguna Beach, Sequoia and Kings Canyon.
Randy had a talent for detail and could fix and repair most of what was needed to maintain the household, as well as helping family members with such tasks. He was an audiophile with an ear for detail that drove him to find the best technical way he could to hear the richness of the music he was listening to. He could often be heard singing with abandon while doing so. He found in music the ability to reset.
While living in Sierra Madre and Arcadia, Randy mountain biked and hiked the mountains in the area. The Mt. Wilson Trail, Henninger Flats, Eaton Canyon, Mt. Lowe, Santa Anita Canyon, Monrovia Canyon, Millard Canyon, amongst many other locations. He climbed Mt. Whitney twice with his friend Roy Oshita and some of their colleagues from Huntington Memorial. Their first attempt was in September 1985, when they make it almost to the top but had to turn back due a fast approaching storm. They successfully reached the summit upon their return a year later.
After moving to La Verne, Randy resumed hiking at the rate of once a week in 2002 until just recently when he stepped back from patient care at the end of May and was doing record review 2 days a week. He then began to hike 3 mornings a week. His regular hike was the Potato Mountain trail in Claremont, and when he had a little more time on his hands, he also enjoyed the trail from Ice House Canyon off Mt. Baldy Rd. to Cedar Glen. Randy had hiked many of the hikes in the San Gabriel and San Bernardino Mountains, including Mt. Baldy, San Jacinto. Cucamonga Peak, Mt Wilson, Big Horn, Ontario, Thunder, Timber, Telegraph, and San Gorgonio Peaks to name a few. Many of those hikes were special experiences hiked with family, friends and colleagues who were important to him. Those of you who had those experiences with him hold your own memories of those times spent together, likely including a whole lot of picture taking, as he loved to record places, people and experiences in that way. Earning the nickname “Paparazzi” with his children and the grandkids.
Holidays hold some treasured memories that were unique to him:
After viewing the annual 4th of July parade in the morning. For the last 20 years from our porch with friends and family, he would perform his annual cartwheel for the family while waiting for the fireworks to start that evening.
For Halloween, each family member carves a pumpkin. Randy’s was always the largest and a tradition developed, originating with the word “HI” carved for the mouth of the pumpkin. Over the years the original “Hi” was replaced with “BOO.”
A Christmas memory was the way he strung the lights on the tree to Amy Grant’s Christmas Album. He hung the outside lights so that they hung perfectly straight. That is going to be a hard act to follow. He broke his ankle one year while taking them down and jumping back from a ledge while living in Sierra Madre.
For many years Easter was spent at the Cabin Flat area in Monrovia Canyon Park with the entire family hunting and tossing eggs in a big BBQ picnic in the woods.
Randy had the ability to put words together for important prayers when we were all together around the table for holidays that were thoughtful, meaningful and memorable moments. He also delivered a very thoughtful and meaningful toast at Mariah and Eric’s rehearsal dinner when they married in 2002 that was beautiful and memorable. We have been told that this same ability was seen in his attention to detail when he wrote reports for the patients that he and his colleagues cared and advocated for as they worked to get their injuries resolved so that they could resume their work and make a living.
When Randy became a Grandpa, “Papa” as the grandkids call him. He reveled in silly playfulness with his grandchildren, Amelia and Soren, who brought much joy to his life. He was affectionately sometimes referred to as “Papasite” for his often quirky ways of doing things the opposite way. Like wearing sandals, shorts or going barefoot in the winter and wearing his flannel jammy bottoms in the summer.
He is predeceased by his parents, Betty May Knoke Cockrell and Dr. Beverly Cockrell Jr. as well as his brother, Christopher Lance Cockrell Sr., and niece Maryrose Cockrell.
Randy is survived by his wife, Carolyn, his daughters, Tasha (Ebaa Khamas) and Mariah Odegaard (Eric), and his grandchildren, Amelia and Soren. He also leaves behind his brother James Vardeman Cockrell Sr., and his wife Karen along with nieces and nephews, Bianca, James Jr., Sophia and Giavanna, as well as his nieces and nephews, Terral, Tyler, and Christopher of his late brother Chris. He is also survived by his, recently reunited with through Tasha and Ancestry.com, only cousin Gary Knoke (Helen). Mother-in-laws, Kathleen and Patricia Fuller, Brothers-in-law, Glenn and Rich Fuller, as well as the Andersen/Jackson side of the family, Steve (Melinda) and nieces Ellery and Avery, Jess (Lisa), David (Ron), Doug (Marie), and Rick. Randy leaves behind a host of additional family members, friends, colleagues and neighbors whom he loved and cared for and who loved and cared about him right back.
If you wish to make a donation in his name, the Sierra Club would be a deserving organization that was close to his heart, being the hiker that he was.