Sunday, March 13, 2011

Bonus Post: Remembering Randy

We received word through Marilyn's Facebook yesterday that Randy Cockerham had passed away Friday night or Saturday morning in his sleep while away at the beach.  According to his mother, no cause of death will be determined until Monday at the earliest.  Our prayers are with his family and friends in North Carolina.  He was 37.

We got to know Randy through the youth activities of the NC Yearly Meeting of Friends back in the late 1980s and early 90s.  He achieved legendary status through his participation at Quaker Lake Camp, through the Serenity Youth Choir and by being at pretty much everything that happened for Young Friends in those days.  I had not seen Randy in a very long time, and there are certainly many others who knew him far better than I.  But as with so many students who have passed through my life, I have some great memories of him that I would like to share today.  Randy had a beautiful singing voice, and I remember him singing the solo on the verses of Awesome God at Yearly Meeting in 1990 while Rich Mullins sang back-up.  I remember him being the go-to guy anytime we had a problem with sound systems and technology, even while he was in high school.  But mostly, I remember Randy making me laugh.  Sometimes until I cried.  Witness the following stories...

Randy accompanied us on a New York trip at some point (maybe 1989 or '91?).  No one was more of a "southern boy" than Randy, but he quickly fell in love with New York City.  He had a long list of family members and friends he wanted to buy souvenirs for, and he took choosing these gifts very seriously.  His parents had sent him with a credit card, which he was only supposed to use after calling them.  Randy seemed to find something to buy on every corner, and so many calls were made.  This being way before cell phones, that meant we spent a lot of time waiting for Randy to call his parents collect on pay phones.  He always had to talk them into it...and he always succeeded.  We would stand by the phone booths just doubled-up with laughter at his "sales pitches."  We all joked that he spent more monoey on collect calls than the rest of us spent on gifts!  But the story that Marilyn and I have retold dozens of times over the years is of the night we ate at Mama Leone's, then one of the city's most famous Italian restaurants.  This was one very classy place.  Seven course meals.  Strolling minstrels singing operatic songs in Latin.  Waiters who made more money in a week than I made in a year.  It was the very definition of elegant.  At one point during the meal, one of the singers stopped by our table and asked if we had any classic Italian love songs we wanted to hear.  Randy quickly spoke up and said, "Can you do That's Amore?"  The classically trained Italian tenor rolled his eyes and made a terrible face- and then sang it full voice with mocking facial expressions directed at Randy.  We were falling out of our chairs laughing.  Then it got even better.  One of the servers came around offering fresh ground mozzarella cheese for our entrees.  Randy took one look at the bowl of cheese and asked the server a question I will never forget- "Do you have any Kraft Parmesan Cheese?"  I am not sure I have ever laughed any harder in my life.  Needless to say, Mama Leone's DID NOT have any Kraft...

Randy Cockerham was just one of those people.  If you knew him, you loved him- and you wanted to spend time with him.  He will be missed by many.  I hope that if you are reading this post and you knew Randy that you will leave a comment with your memories of his life, which touched us all.  Have a blessed day.

Because of Jesus,



  1. Carl,
    I heard about Randy's death and started searching the web for some information. I came across your blog. Wow! Do you remember me? Christy Edgerton?
    A friend on Facebook had sent me a message about Randy. I still cannot believe it. He was a very special person and always made me smile. He was kind to everyone and made them feel worthwhile.

    Christy Edgerton Duval

  2. Randy was such a kind person always to the heart, i never knew a man who had so many random talents whether it was his music, djing ability, or video making ability. I knew Randy from my time a Quaker Lake Camp and North Carolina Yearly Meeting and I will always hold memories of Randy in a warm and happy place, myself being a little younger than Randy and a few years behind him I can honestly say I looked up to him, and in my teen years I always said I wished I was as cool as him. His life was too short but I know this he touched so many lives with his energy and attitude towards life he lived a life twice as long. My prayers go out to his family and I hope all is well.

  3. Thanks for your comments. Of course I remember you Christy- so wonderful to hear from you. You are both right- Randy was oneof the sweetest, kindest people you could ever meet.

  4. David Fields3/16/2011

    Randy was a camper's counselor, of all the people I have known, I wish I had treated him better.

  5. I've really struggled over the past week with what I wanted to say in tribute to Randy. For a period from about 13-20, it seemed that very little happened in my life that Randy wasn't there for or if he missed it, he was ready to give me a hard time about. So much about Randy was big -- his physique, his voice, his laugh, his smile, his joy being out on the water, even his tendency to pout when things didn't go his way. While we didn't always see eye to eye on the details of how things should go (like how long it should take to hook up the Serenity sound system), his love (for his friends, God, his campers -- as pointed out by DF (another camper's counselor in his own way)) was also big.


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