ROLLING MEADOWS, IL -- Full-line vending pioneer Matthew L. Cockrell, founding president of the Illinois Automatic Merchandising Council, died here late in June. He was 92.
A native of Louisville, KY, Cockrell moved to Chicago in 1937, where he ran a newspaper distribution agency. He enlisted in the Army at the outbreak of World War II, earning a lieutenant's commission and serving in Italy.
He and his wife Betty, whom he married in 1942, established Cockrell Coffee Service in 1954. The company's red rooster (or cockerel) logotype became a familiar symbol of the new vending industry in the northwestern suburbs of Chicago.
Throughout the more than 30 years during which the Cockrells ran the company, it grew to one of the largest independent operations in Illinois. Headquartered in Schaumburg, Cockrell Coffee Service eventually employed more than 150 people and ran a foodservice subsidiary called Red Rooster Cafeterias.
Cockrell served on the board of directors of the National Automatic Merchandising Association. In 1970, he and Betty were invited to the International Vending Convention in Tokyo, where he delivered the keynote address.
Long active in community affairs, Cockrell was a member of the Arlington Heights Rotary Club for more than 25 years, and a charter member of the Christian Church of Arlington Heights; he founded the Illinois Chicago Mosquito Abatement District, and was president of the Eastwood Association.
He is survived by his wife, three children, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Memorial contributions may be made to the donor's favorite charity, or to any of Cockrell's favorites: Chicago Botanic Gardens; Clearbrook, which provides services to children with developmental disabilities; or Hospice and Palliative Care of Northeastern Illinois.