Rev. Jon Edward Cockrel, 79, of Metropolis, went peacefully into the arms of his Lord on June 8, 2021, at the Ray & Kay Eckstein Hospice Care Center in Paducah, from complications following a stroke.
Jon was born on November 20, 1941, in Metropolis, the son of Wayne and Mary Ethel (Call) Cockrel. He married Betty Jean Brenningmeyer on September 3, 1960, at the Joppa United Methodist Church.
Jon is survived by his wife; his son Timothy (Beth) Cockrel of Bremerton, WA; his daughter Jill (Matthew) Cobb of St. Louis; grandchildren Ryan (Robin) Cockrel of Bremerton, WA; Benjamin Cockrel of Yakima, WA; Madeline, Nathan, and Ian Cobb of St. Louis; honorary grandchildren Emily (William) Coates of Tacoma, WA; and Mac Everitt of Mountlake Terrace, WA; great-grandchildren Paisley and Sam Cockrel of Bremerton, WA; and honorary great-grandchildren Mary-Ellen, Maggie, and Clara Coates of Tacoma, WA.
He was preceded in death by his parents and a brother, Robert Wayne Cockrel.
Jon grew up on a farm near Joppa, and the farm remained dear to his heart. He began his education at the one-room Tucker School in rural Massac County, continuing at Franklin Elementary School, and graduating from Joppa Community High School. He went on to graduate from Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville with bachelor’s degrees in speech communication and psychology, also earning a teaching certificate. Later, he received his MDiv from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL, and a master’s degree in evangelism from Scarritt College in Nashville.
Jon was a talented athlete, excelling in basketball and baseball. He had an opportunity to follow a dream and play minor league baseball, but instead answered the Lord’s call into ministry.
He began his ministry as a student pastor at age 18, serving three rural United Methodist churches — Upper Salem, Zion, and Independence. In the years that followed, he served as pastor of Worden UMC; Dana and Rutland UMCs; Deland UMC; Murrayville and Manchester UMCs; Warrensburg UMC; and Beardstown UMC. He then served as chaplain at Decatur Memorial Hospital for nearly 18 years. After his official “retirement” from the United Methodist Church, he returned to his hometown of Metropolis to serve as Minister of Visitation at the First United Methodist Church. He ministered there for 17 years, and remained in that position at the time of his death.
Throughout his years in ministry, he took on a variety of additional roles in the communities where he lived. He was a school bus driver for the Warrensburg-Latham School District; a volunteer firefighter with the Warrensburg Fire Department; a teacher of an ethics course at Shawnee Community College; and a member of the Massac County Mental Health Board. He consistently took an interest in community affairs and, with Betty, cheered on the local sports teams — first in support of Tim’s and Jill’s athletic endeavors and, most recently, through enthusiastic attendance of Massac County sporting events.
Jon was a devoted husband to Betty, taking to heart God’s command to “love your wife, just as Christ loved the church” (Eph. 5:25). He humbly helped and cared for her, and never considered himself “above” any household task. He was her faithful partner and companion for nearly 61 years. Never was there a better husband.
He was a loving father to Tim and Jill, “bring[ing] them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). He supported them in everything they did, from the years of driving a young Tim to deliver newspapers in the early morning hours, to raking sand pits when Jill was practicing for her track and field jumping competitions, to supporting them through all life’s ups and downs. Never was there a better dad.
Jon delighted in his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and enjoyed the many dear friends he made everywhere he lived. He was a “people person” and never met a stranger. He blessed countless people through his many years of visiting hospital, nursing home and hospice patients and those who were homebound. He was a popular guest preacher at area churches, known for his good nature, his sense of humor, his gift for teaching, and his wisdom. He enjoyed animals and nature, puttering around the yard, and spending time on the farm. He appreciated the simple things in life. Above all, Jon loved his family and his Lord. He was loved by many and will be greatly missed.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Loftus-McManus Funeral Home. A visitation with family will be held at the First United Methodist Church in Metropolis the evening of June 13, from 5-8 p.m. The funeral service will be held at the church on Monday, June 14, at 11 a.m., with a brief graveside service to follow at Metropolis Memorial Gardens.
Pallbearers will be Ryan Cockrel, Benjamin Cockrel, Nathan Cobb, Danny Goines, Vernon Anderson, David Brenningmeyer, Dennis Brenningmeyer, and Steve Brenningmeyer.
Memorials may be made in Jon’s name to: First United Methodist Church, 100 E. 5th St., Metropolis, IL 62960, or to the National Down Syndrome Society online at give.ndss.org, or by mail to 8 E. 41st St., 8th Floor, New York, NY 10017. (Call 1-800-221-4602 for NDSS donation questions.)
“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles…” (Isaiah 40:31).