Alumni

Mike Cochran

Photo of Mike CochranMike Cochran (’58), Haltom City, died Jan. 11. As a nearly 40-year reporter for the Associated Press, he covered everything from the assassination of President John F. Kennedy to the moon landings. He was inducted into UNT's C.E. "Pop" Shuford Hall of Honor for outstanding alumni in the Mayborn School of Journalism as well as the Texas Newspaper Foundation Hall of Fame.

Cochran covered sports for The Campus Chat, then worked for the Denton Record-Chronicle and the Abilene Reporter-News before joining the AP in 1960 at its Fort Worth office.

He had just come back from Kennedy's departure at Carswell Air Force Base in Fort Worth on the morning of Nov. 22, 1963, when he learned Kennedy had been shot in Dallas. Cochran spent the day at Parkland covering medical reports on the wounded Gov. Connally.

He then covered Oswald's funeral in Fort Worth. Since there was no one there to bury Oswald, he and other reporters ended up carrying the casket.

Cochran originally wanted to be the Texas sports editor for AP.

"But the assassination changed all that," he told the North Texan in 2013. "I fell in love with news."

Cochran also covered numerous crime trials, the space missions and sporting events. He later served as a roving Texas correspondent for the AP. Before he retired, he worked for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. 

He also wrote several books, including Claytie: The Roller-Coaster Life of a Texas Wildcatter, about former Texas gubernatorial candidate Clayton Williams, and The Godfather of Poker, about Texas-born Las Vegas gambler Doyle Brunson.

Services will be at 2:30 p.m. Jan. 29 at Greenwood Funeral Home in Fort Worth.

 

William Derryberry

William Derryberry (’73), Cedar Park. He served as chief special projects financial officer for the city of Austin, in which he worked on funding for water and wastewater plants, the convention center and the airport. After retirement, Bill went to work for Travis County. He said his greatest achievement is helping to acquire the funding for the Balcones Canyonland National Habitat. At North Texas, he belonged to the Student Government Association and Supreme Court. He served in the U.S. Army from 1966 to 1970. An avid history buff, he helped his baby daughter go to sleep by reciting the names of Texas counties and county seats.

Donna Miller Wiehe

Donna Miller Wiehe (’51), Cedar Park. Donna was a consummate music educator and performer who taught and performed for 50 years at schools in Highland Park, Beeville, Big Spring, Denton, San Marcos and Brazosport. After retirement, she led the children’s music ministry at her church and then organized and led choirs and singalongs at her retirement centers in Austin. She met her husband, the late Dr. Douglas Wiehe (’51, ’55 M.A.), at North Texas.

Debra Dee Dolliver

Debra Dee Dolliver (’85, ’01 Ph.D.), Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She taught chemistry at Southeastern Louisiana University and the University of Alabama, and she was loved by her students. She was part of a team that was granted a patent for an anti-cancer compound that could prevent the growth of human breast, lung and colon cancer cells. Debra was deeply kind and left many beautiful things behind in the world. She came from an artistically talented family and was a gifted watercolor painter and quiltmaker. She is survived by her husband, Artie McKim (’99 Ph.D.).

D. Scott Blankenship

D. Scott Blankenship (’85), Tomball. He worked as a stockbroker in Phoenix, Dallas and Houston. He enjoyed hunting and traveling to national parks. An active volunteer, he served as deacon at his church and contributed to many overseas missions and was a regular contributor to Denton County's Christ's Haven Home. He was a member of Lambda Chi Alpha. Scott is survived by his college sweetheart, Melinda Meyer Blankenship (’87).

Jim N. McDonald

Jim N. McDonald (’52), Corsicana. Jim made his way from farming in Iowa Park to earning a bachelor's degree in business administration while working two jobs and raising a family of three. He worked in insurance for 61 years, starting at Employers Insurance of Texas. He established and owned his own insurance brokerage firm, Risk Consultants, where he handled accounts from leading companies such as Helzberg Diamonds, King Ranch and Zales Corporation. He then worked with Bayly, Martin & Fay, one of the largest insurance brokerage firms in the world. He served as president of Frank B. Hall Company, then formed his own company, McDonald & Company. He loved traveling and was known for his generosity, including aiding stranded strangers during his travels. His relatives include wife Sharron Daniel Green McDonald (’74); brother Harold McDonald (’55); sister Sue McDonald Davis, who attended in the late 1950s; daughters Joy Houser, senior lecturer in the G. Brint Ryan College of Business, and Susan McDonald Padgett, adjunct professor, Cadre coordinator and student teacher coordinator from 2006 to 2020; granddaughter Megan Barber (’10); and other relatives who have attended North Texas since 1929.

Candace Ellen Smith

Candace Ellen Smith (’66), Denton. While at North Texas, she enjoyed her time as a Delta Gamma. She had a 30-year career in marketing support with IBM, working in Shreveport, Houston, Dallas and Palo Alto, California. She was known for her lively parties and loyal friendship.

Claire Ann McLennan

Claire Ann McLennan (’62), Avoca. She made education the focus of her career, earning her Ph.D. from Texas Tech University; teaching at schools in Red Oak, Abilene and Houston; serving as associate director of grants and special projects at the Region 14 Education Service Center in Abilene; and working as a professor in the Department of Human Service Studies in the College of Human Ecology at Cornell University.

Nikeeta Slade

Nikeeta Slade (’11), Syracuse. Originally from Killeen, Nikeeta moved to Syracuse for her master’s in Africana studies at Syracuse University and remained active in the community. A prominent Black Lives Matter leader, she organized and rallied against police brutality, fought for worker’s rights, and helped undocumented and immigrant workers. She also co-hosted the podcast, QueerWOC.

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