Former Iowa Ag Secretary, House speaker Dale Cochran dies

URBANDALE — Dale Cochran, a Fort Dodge Democrat who served as speaker of the Iowa House of Representatives and as Iowa’s secretary of agriculture, passed away on Monday in West Des Moines.

He was 89 years old.

Born in Fort Dodge on Nov. 20, 1928, Cochran graduated from Fort Dodge High School in 1946 and attended Iowa State University in Ames, where he graduated with a degree in agriculture in 1950.

After graduation, he took a job serving as director of the Jasper County Extension office in Newton, where he met his wife of 66 years Jeannene Hirsch. The couple was married in 1952 in Ankeny and soon returned to his family’s farm near Vincent where Cochran worked in partnership with his father and became involved in farm policy, serving as a leader in the National Farm Organization (NFO) in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

In 1964, Cochran was elected to represent his constituents in the Fort Dodge area in the Iowa House, while continuing to run his family farm for more than 40 years as well as serving in various political positions.

While serving in the Iowa House, Cochran was selected to serve as minority leader and was elected as speaker of the House from 1975 to 1979. He also served on the executive committee of the National Council of State Legislatures (NCSL).

In 1986, Cochran was elected as Iowa secretary of agriculture and served for three terms before retiring from the position in 1999.

He is survived by his wife Jeannene, three daughters, Deborah (Jeff) Frehse of Denison, Cynthia (John) Forbes of Urbandale and Tamara (Bret) Mathews of Cedar Rapids. He is also survived by his grandchildren Stephanie (Cory) Schmadeke and Ryan (Sierra) Frehse of Denison, Adam Forbes of West Des Moines and Meredith (James) Swanson of Waukee. He is also survived by his great grandchildren Christian and Gavin Schmadeke, London and Jemma Frehse and Logan Swanson.


A visitation will be held Thursday from 5-7 p.m. at Dunn’s Funeral Home in Des Moines. Funeral services will be Friday at Dunn’s starting at 11 a.m. Lunch will be served following services. Internment will be at North Lawn Cemetery at 3 p.m. in Fort Dodge following the services.

Memorial contributions may be made to Suncrest Hospice or the Iowa State Capitol Monument Conservation Fund.

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