2017: Margo Cochran
Margo is the daughter of Bill and Holly (Croce) Cochran and the granddaughter of John and Rose (Corak) Croce. She traces her family roots to the Lika region of Croatia, which she had the opportunity to visit last year. Margo was a member of the Seattle Junior Tamburitzans during high school, and later danced with the Vela Luka Croatian Dance Ensemble. She has attended many CFU Festivals and Tamburitza extravaganzas around the country with family and friends, and can regularly be found on the dance floor while a kolo is playing. In addition to being a part of the Croatian community, Margo is a proud Italian American, and serves as the treasurer of the Sons of Italy Seattle Fedele Lodge. Her family owns and operates local wholesale food distributor Pacific Food Importers and its retail outlet, Big John’s PFI in Sodo.
“I fasten my final opunke and smooth my apron. As I wait backstage I feel the blood begin to pulse in my veins as I hear the tamburasi begin to play. A smile spreads wide across my face, and I dance out onto the stage.
I come from a long line of strong, Croatian women who have taught me to live life to the fullest. Although I am deeply interested in the history, traditions, and the culture of Croatia, it is the Croatian spirit that has influenced me the most. My great-grandmother came to the United States alone as a teenager. In the face of poverty, discrimination, and a language barrier, she built a life for her family here in Seattle, and was known to enjoy her rakija and a good tune.
My grandmother, the strong silent type, introduced me to my Croatian roots. She is always doing everything for other people, and never asking for anything for herself. Her work ethic and positivity have inspired me to always strive for what I want in life. She worked side-by-side with my grandfather to build my family’s company Pacific Food Importers, a business that not only honors the ethnic cuisines of Croatia and Italy, but has become a food haven for European Americans in the Seattle community.
My mother and my aunt are the life of the party. They are risk takers whether it be taking the stage as a musician or leaving a stable career to help take the reigns of the family business. They are the first ones to join me for a kolo, and encourage me to join them in song.
Being a part of the Croatian community in Seattle, we are able to surround ourselves with others who have this same “zest for life.” Through tamburitza music, costumes, dance, food, and community, we all remember our family members who came before us to bring us to this place.
This is the Croatian spirit that lives in my sister and I today. When I dance a kolo, sing a song, or wear a costume, I am reminded of all those that have come before me, and I hope I am honoring them in some way, too.”