The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Montour County

March 11, 2014

Montour County public transportation helps Cochran stay on the move at 102

DANVILLE — Ruth Cochran stopped driving about five years ago.

That was when she was 97.

She now rides buses and vans run by Montour County Transit.

At 102 and preferring the front seat, Cochran is the oldest rider in the county and one of the oldest riders in Pennsylvania.

“The bus really helps me. It helps me be independent,” said Cochran, of Danville, who still cooks, cleans, bakes and does laundry in her apartment.

“Everybody has been wonderful to me,” she said of the transit program which takes her to and from doctors offices and the grocery store. Today she had an appointment with the dentist. “If they don’t pull my tooth, I want to go get groceries,” said the feisty, slight, white-haired woman.

She pays 50 cents for a ride to a grocery store in the county twice a month and 50 cents for each ride to doctors in Columbia and Montour counties.

“The first day I met her, I was driving. By law, we must help people in and out of the buses and vans. She didn’t want me to help her,” said Transit Director Amanda Boyer.

Boyer’s research found Perry and Montgomery counties have riders 103 years old, Chester County has a 102-year-old rider and Center County has a rider who is 108 years old, according to Pennsylvania Public Transportation Association statistics from late December.

“She’s one of the nicest ladies,” driver Dick Umstead said of Cochran.

“I couldn’t have better drivers. They’re all wonderful and they’re all wonderful in the office when I call,” Cochran said.

Some people from the transit office attended her 100th birthday bash in The Pine Barn Inn. They remember her birthday, which is Jan. 6, with a card each year.

“I’m working on my 103rd,” said Cochran.

“She made a spice cake for birthdays of people in the transit office a couple years ago,” Boyer said of Cochran.

Cochran said most people don’t believe she is 102.

She said part of her secret is not having smoked or drank alcohol.

She used to tell people she was still looking for a man, but said she stopped after she turned 100.

Her husband, Wilbur, died in 1966.

They had lived in McEwensville and West Milton before she ran a service station and small grocery store along Route 54 between Turbotville and Washingtonville. Her husband was a truck driver during that time.

“I’m an old farmer’s girl,” said Cochran, a 1930 graduate of Milton High School.

She also worked in the office of her uncle, Herman Follmer, who had trucking and gas and oil businesses.

She last worked as payroll clerk for PennDOT in Danville, retiring when she was 62. “I still draw a pension,” she said.

Cochran moved to her current home after the apartment building where she lived in Danville burned. “I lost everything but my clothes,” said Cochran who lived on the third floor.

Her sister, Eleanor Weikel, lives in Watsontown and is 96. “She and I are the only two left,” Cochran said of nine siblings. “I was in the middle and the runt,” she said.

Cochran has a son, Raymond Cochran, of the Turbotville area, who is 83. He and his wife, Dorothy, visit Ruth and play cards every week.

Her daughter, Joanne, died in 1995. Cochran spent time caring for her in Japan.

She has five grandchildren, including three grandsons in Japan; 10 great-grandchildren and five great-great grandchildren.

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