Milburn Richard Cockrell was born on a cotton farm in Itawamba County near Mantachie, Miss., Jan. 24, 1941, to Ershel and Onita Cockrell. He was converted in a spring revival at the First Baptist Church, Mantachie, in 1956, while Elder Ralph Brand was preaching a meeting and when Elder Arthur Smith was pastor. Some days later he asked for membership in the New Hope Baptist Church, Dorsey, Miss. The church received him, and Elder G. S. Rayburn baptized him on Sunday afternoon in a farm pool.
Later he moved his membership to the First Baptist Church of Mantachie. He made known his call to preach in a revival meeting at the Bethel Baptist Church, Dorsey, Miss., while Elder Carl Seal was preaching and Elder Alfred Jones was pastor. He was licensed to preach by his home church at the age of 16, and he preached his first sermon on March 22, 1957. The First Baptist Church of Mantachie ordained him on Feb. 27, 1960, the year he graduated from Mantachie High School.
During his first pastorate at the Big Oak Baptist Church, Dorsey, Miss., he married Bettie Sheron Burcham on June 7, 1960. This union was blessed with four children, Gayle, Marsha, Christopher, and Derek. Elder Cockrell has pastored churches in Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, Kentucky, and Ohio. He has preached for 40 years on various radio broadcasts. He presently is the speaker on The Berea Baptist Broadcast heard on nine stations in the U.S. and two in the Philippines. From his pen has come many articles in Baptist papers. He was the founder and the editor of The Berea Baptist Banner, a paper with an international circulation. He has authored many tracts and eighteen books. He has assisted in printing three different editions of The Berea Baptist Hymnal. Elder Cockrell lived near Mantachie, Miss., and pastored the Berea Baptist Church.
Pastor Milburn Cockrell departed this life on September 14, 2002 at around 10:15 p.m. from a massive heart attack.