Plant Memorial Trees
Monday, November 6, 2023
2:00 - 3:00pm (Eastern time)
Monday, November 6, 2023
Starts at 3:00pm (Eastern time)
Dr. Hal Phillips Cockerham entered The Church Triumphant on November 1, 2023. He was born in Winston Salem on April 22, 1939 to Mollye Phillips Cockerham and Clyde Henry Cockerham. As a child, he lived on Runnymede Road. He attended Wiley Elementary School and Reynolds High School. He enrolled in the Kentucky Military Institute, Lyndon, Ky. for the 10th grade and graduated in 1957.
He received an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md., from the late Representative Thurmond Chatham. He graduated with the Class of 1961 receiving a B.S. degree and was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy. The graduation speaker that year was President John F. Kennedy.
Following commissioning, Ensign Cockerham served aboard the destroyer USS Corry DDR 817 and the staff of the Commandant of the 5th Naval District. During the Cuban Missile Crisis of October, 1962, he served as a communication officer on the staff of the Commander In Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet.
Following naval service, Cockerham enrolled at UNC, Chapel Hill. He graduated from the School of Dentistry and was awarded the DDS degree in 1969. He was a member of Psi Omega Dental Fraternity. While a student at UNC, he joined the Chapel Hill Flying Club and earned his "Private Pilot license. He served as the club president during his senior year.
Dr. Cockerham established a dental practice in Raleigh, which he maintained for 9 years.. In 1978, he became one of the original staff members of Winston Salem Dental Care; a subsidiary of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. He practiced there for approximately 30 years. In 2009, he joined the dental staff at the VA Medical Center in Salisbury, N.C. While serving as Acting Chief of the Dental Service, he had the privilege of hiring two of the finest dental professionals he ever met: Dr. Keith Phillips and retired Navy dental laboratory technician, CPO Geoff Moon. Both gentlemen exceeded all expectations and rapidly rose to positions of leadership.
Dr. Cockerham retired from dentistry in 2015. As he looked back at his many years of practice and the thousands of patients he had treated, he was most proud that those he came to know best had truly become friends. The best part of working on teeth was to get to know the people attached to them. Dr. Cockerham had many interests outside of dentistry. He enjoyed deer hunting. Along with his dental school classmate, the late Dr. Gladstone Harrell, he loved to float the swamps and man the duck blinds of Eastern North Carolina. He loved to build and fix things. He was a licensed builder, plumber and HVAC contractor. Many of his patients told their friends that their dentist was a plumber; that took some explaining. Dr. Cockerham loved motorcycles. As a teenage he rode with the late Zach Reynolds. A period he later referred to as his 1st childhood. In his middle years, his 2nd childhood, he rode again. The best period was his 3rd childhood; his Harley-Davidson phase. He rode thousands of miles with a group of dear friends known as "The Bad Apple Riders". In 2005, he and some of the group rode to Alaska. He and two others rode as far north as the Arctic Circle. The following year he went to New Zealand and toured with a motorcycle group. In 2007, he and five other "Bad Apples" rode in the Austrian and Italian Alps. As the years passed, his motorcycle group added camping as a major interest. Several bought camping trailers which could also haul motorcycles. People without motorcycles joined the camping group and it expanded. He called them all, the finest friends anyone could have.
Dr. Cockerham grew up in the Baptist faith but found fulfillment when he joined New Philadelphia Moravian Church in 1996 and transferred membership to Friedberg Moravian in 2019. He believed that to be happy in a church was to be involved. During his years as a member of New Philadelphia he was a Sunday School teacher, a class president, a member of the Building Committee, an elder, a trustee and a member of the Chancel Choir.
He is survived by his Wife, Sterling Johnson Cockerham, a son, Hal Phillips Cockerham, Jr., daughter-in-law Nicole Cockerham and grandsons Jacob Owen Cockerham and Joshua Luke Cockerham.
The visitation for Dr. Hal Phillips Cockerham will be held at 2pm Monday, November 6, 2023 at Friedberg Moravian Church, 2178 Friedberg Church Rd, Winston-Salem, NC 27127 with the Memorial Service following at 3pm. Memorials may be made to Friedberg Moravian Church or Trellis Hospice Care.