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Claremore graduate, Educator and Pearl Harbor survivor


John Andrew Cockrum is a “once in a lifetime educator” –  the embodiment of what an educator should be. In the course of his tenure as Sapulpa Junior High and Sapulpa Senior High principal, he was mediator, mentor, disciplinarian, counselor, and strident supporter of his students and his school. Cockrum executed these roles with kindness, compassion, and remarkable charisma.

Mr. Cockrum started out his career with Sapulpa Public Schools in 1960 as the principal of Sapulpa Junior High School. In the middle of the 1963 school year,  the High School principal, Mr. Baumgardner, resigned, so Mr. Cockrum became the new High School principal. Following his tenure as Principal of SHS, he became District Business Manager, then Assistant Superintendent of Schools for Support Services, until his retirement in 1987.

A Claremore native, Cockrum was in his junior year at Claremore High School when Pearl Harbor was attacked in December 1941.  Later, as seniors, he and four of his classmates — anticipating they would be drafted — agreed to join the Navy together.  For Cockrum, though, there was a snag: Too young at age 17, he needed a parent’s permission to enlist. And his mother wouldn’t give it.  Finally, he succeeded in getting his father to sign.  He graduated from CHS on a Tuesday night and on Friday he was on his way to San Diego for boot camp.  From boot camp, he went on to serve on board the USS Piranah in the Pacific and is one of the few remaining survivors from Pearl Harbor.

Cockrum is a patriot, and has always been so proud to be an American citizen.  He served his country, and he’s one of the most patriotic people you will ever meet. John has had four battles with cancer and open-heart surgery during his lifetime.  He’s also a Cherokee Warrior. 

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