Blind date leads to love

February 13, 2015 11:00 AM

Kirby Messinger

Mathilda and Michael Cochran

Michael and Mathilda Cochran are thrilled to give back to the institution that has given them so much. They attended the investiture of Karen Johannesson as the inaugural Cochran Family Professor in Earth and Environmental Sciences on Feb. 5 on the uptown campus. (Photo from the Cochrans)

It was a chance meeting over 50 years ago that brought Michael and Mathilda Cochran together. 

At the urging of their friends, Mathilda Prestia, a New Orleans native and St. Mary’s College student, finally agreed to go on a blind date with Tulane University geology major Michael Cochran. It was love at first sight. 

“Well, it was really love at first evening,” Mathilda Cochran said. “By the end of our first date, we had already made plans for a second date.” 

Even though the two seemed to have nothing in common and their parents didn’t immediately approve of the match, a whirlwind courtship ensued. And a year and a half later, the two were married. 

“We were an unlikely couple,” Mathilda Cochran said. “I was a New Orleans girl, and he was from a small town in Ohio. The only thing that my father approved of was that Michael was a Tulane student.” 

Michael Cochran said it was a Tulane scholarship that allowed him to begin his career as a geophysicist and meet the love of his life. 

After 52 years of marriage, two children and three grandchildren, the two are grateful for their initial chance meeting.

“About five years ago on a visit to New Orleans, I suffered a stroke and received treatment at Tulane Medical Center,” Michael Cochran said. “I recovered and it hit me then that Tulane really did a lot for me. I needed to do something for Tulane.” 

The Cochrans decided to create a professorship to support the School of Science and Engineering. On Feb. 5, Karen Johannesson was invested as the inaugural Cochran Family Professor in Earth and Environmental Sciences. The Cochrans also support the Tulane Stroke Survivor Support Group.

Johannesson recently got word that she will receive the 2015 Patterson Medal of the Geochemical Society, for a recent innovative breakthrough in environmental geochemistry of fundamental significance, in Prague, Czech Republic, in August. 

Kirby Messinger is a communication/marketing officer in the Office of Development Communications.

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000 website@tulane.edu