Stephen Cochrane, executive director and chief investment officer of the $3.1 billion North Dakota State Investment Board and North Dakota Retirement and Investment Office, Bismarck, died April 10. He was 53.
“Our investigation determined his death was a suicide,” said Sgt. Steve Hall, supervisor of the Burleigh County Sheriff's Department's investigations division. “The investigation determined it was a self-inflicted death by a firearm.”
Mr. Hall said the investigation is continuing. “We are waiting for the final report from the state medical examiner. The preliminary report of his death was ruled a suicide,” Mr. Hall said.
Mr. Cochrane's body was found in his home at the Island Park Estates community north of Bismarck, Mr. Hall said. Debbie Cochrane, Mr. Cochrane's wife, was the only other person in the house at the time, Mr. Hall said.
Sheriff's police searched Mr. Cochrane's office at the state investment board “for indications of anything involving his death and is still investigating,” Mr. Hall said. Investigators have “nothing concrete” on the reason for Mr. Cochrane's suicide, Mr. Hall said. “There was no suicide note we can draw a conclusion from.”
Lt. Gov. Jack Dalrymple, chair of the North Dakota board, said the state investment board will meet April 23 to talk about a replacement.
“I do not know if we will use a (executive recruiting) search firm,” he said. In the interim, Mr. Cochrane's duties are being divided among investment board staff.
“The state investment board and all of Steve's friends were very saddened to hear of news of his untimely death and conveyed condolences to his family,” he said. “Steve was a great asset to us and will be surely missed.”
“He was a very capable, upbeat, enthusiastic guy,” he said, calling him “high energy” and “an outstanding investment leader.”
Kelly L. Schmidt, North Dakota state treasurer and trustee of the North Dakota board, said, “It's a big loss to us.”
Mr. Cochrane started at the board in January 1997, Ms. Schmidt said.
Carol Wardlaw, vice president at Dimensional Fund Advisors, a money manager for the board, said Mr. Cochrane “was an extremely capable executive director. ... He was a good friend and he will be missed.”
A memorial service for Mr. Cochrane was to be held April 16 in Bismarck.
Along with his wife, Mr. Cochrane is survived by his children, Benjamin Cochrane, Jeffrey Conover, Timothy Conover, Shawna Cochrane and Heather Cochrane. He also is survived by a grandson, Carter; his first wife, Karen Lennard (mother of Benjamin); and his sisters, Camilla Cochrane, Lesley Quick and Kimberly Cochrane, according to a published obituary.
Mr. Cochrane's family identified two organizations for donations in his memory, according to the obituary, which ran in The Bismarck Tribune:
• The Central Dakota Humane Society, 2104 37th Street, Mandan, ND 58554. Phone: 701-667-2020.
• Shands Teaching Hospital at the University of Florida, Shands Office of Development, P.O. Box 100386, Gainesville, FL 32610. Phone: 352-265-0111.