Savannah couple killed in plane crash remembered for generosity, - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Savannah couple killed in plane crash remembered for generosity, friendship

(Source: Facebook) (Source: Facebook)

Savannah civic organizations are remembering the couple killed in a plane crash near the Bryan and Effingham County line on Monday for their generosity and contagious spirit.

Catherine and Byron Cocke were well-known in downtown Savannah and involved with several organizations, including the Historic Savannah Foundation and the Savannah Philharmonic Orchestra.

"I don't think our reaction is different from anyone else's reaction," said Daniel Carey, executive director of the Historic Savannah Foundation. "I think it's just pure loss, and it's just really sad. We just hope that the family can weather this, and find the silver lining on the other side."

Carey said the couple was more like extended family, and learning they were killed in the crash was surreal. 

"I was dumbstruck, and just really deeply saddened," Carey said. "Really good people, and just the worst thing you could imagine."

Savannah Philharmonic Executive Director Terri O'Neil shared the same sentiment.

"Oh it was heart wrenching. It's just beyond belief, really, for us to hear that Byron and Catherine had this tragic accident. They were not only loyal donors of the arts and Savannah Philharmonic, but when they jumped into our community a couple years ago, I mean, they jumped in with gusto."

Carey said, "They really represented the next generation of philanthropists in Savannah, and that's pretty remarkable because that ethic doesn't always transfer from one generation to the next. But it definitely took seat with them. They had this terrific family, and you knew that their kids were going to get the same message and do the same things and will. That's what we have to hope and be encouraged by is that their kids will live the life their parents lived and do good things."

As well-known as they were for being generous donors, O'Neil and Carey said the Cocke's will be remembered throughout Savannah as friends- almost extended family members- who could change the atmosphere of a room just by being in it.

"Anytime Catherine and Byron walked into the room, I mean, they just lit up the room," O'Neil said. "I mean, they were definitely a couple. They were connected. They were committed. As parents, you just couldn't have wanted a better family unit to have Catherine and Byron as the parent."

Carey said, "Savannah is worse for this, no question. We have all lost something, not just the organizations and family and friends, but the whole community has lost something."

Both had businesses based in Atlanta.

Byron's co-founder and co-CEO of CF Real Estate Services, Brett Finkelstein, shared the same thoughts in a statement released Tuesday.

“On Monday, Aug. 28 Our Co-CEO Byron Cocke and his wife Catherine passed away in the crash of a small plane. We are devastated by this tragic loss. They were philanthropic, creative, intelligent, caring and entrepreneurial. Byron and Catherine were devoted to their five beautiful children, who are being cared for by their extended family. As we all cope with this loss, we ask that everyone celebrate their lives and respect the privacy of those who love them. Working with Byron was a joy. He personified love of family, love of company and love for co-workers. He was laid back – yet motivated us to be the best we could possibly be and to treat the company as if it were our own. I will continue to lead this solid and growing organization. I’m confident in our senior team and their leadership and we are working together to ensure continuity. We will always strive for the greatness Byron envisioned. His dreams are still very much alive, as we continue in his honor. We send our love to their family.”

Catherine was the owner and designer at Catherine Cocke Interiors, receiving accolades and recognition from Atlanta Homes and Lifestyle and HGTV.

The couple was also involved with the Telfair Museums in Savannah, which also released a statement Tuesday.

"Telfair Museums is shocked and deeply heartbroken by the tragic loss of Catherine and William Byron Cocke. The Cockes were supporters of Telfair Museums as well as other local organizations. It is a sad day for Savannah to have lost these two dynamic, caring, philanthropic people. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their family, especially their 5 young children."

Byron was an advisor on the Downtown Neighborhood Association Board. It released a statement on Monday.

"The Downtown Neighborhood Association is shaken and saddened by the tragic loss of our board member, friends, and neighbors, Catherine and William Byron Cocke. Mr. and Mrs. Cocke have been active in not only the Downtown Neighborhood Association but also countless other civic organizations. The Savannah community has lost a shining light in this beautiful couple and while our hearts are heavvy, we ask for prayers for their surviving five children and encourage that the media respect the family's wish for privacy. Our support is unwavering and those closest to the family are committed to helping them in whatever capacity needed in this difficult time."

The couple had five children ranging in age from 10 months to 13 years old, and were members of St. John's Episcopal Church in Savannah. There are no details about funeral arrangements yet.

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