PULLMAN, Wash. — When his home and family life was in turmoil, Kathy Cochran came to her nephew’s rescue.

At the time Robert Cochran was 15, living in Kansas, and the court was about to place him in a foster home again. Kathy gave the court another option. She agreed to take him in, and the judge awarded her custody.

“Aunt Kathy… has been my best friend, my mom and my guardian angel all at the same time,” Robert Cochran wrote in a letter successfully nominating her for Washington State University 2002 Mom of the Year. She was selected from 24 candidates and recognized at the April 13 Mom’s Weekend brunch in the Compton Union Building.

Kathy Cochran, a Seattle resident who never married, helped her nephew make the transition from the Midwest to Seattle. She encouraged him to become involved in activities and make new friends, while facilitating opportunities for him to further his relationships with his grandparents and father.

“She has instilled morals and values in a young man who might otherwise be continuing a downward spiral…,” wrote Robert, a WSU junior with an interest in communication.

Kathy Cochran was a 4.0 student at the University of Washington and was at the top of her class in law school there. She has been recognized in a book “America’s Best Lawyers.” At the UW, she has volunteered to judge mock trials, presented lectures and demonstration to law students, and serves on the law school class reunion committee.

She is chairwoman of the Over the Counter Drug Committee of the Defense Research Institute, and served on the board of director of the Washington Defense Trial Lawyers Association. In addition, she volunteered her services at First Place, a school for the homeless in Seattle.

Other finalists for WSU Mom of the Year included sisters Rebecca Botko, Los Angeles, and Jennifer Botko-Scholz, Folsom, Calif., nominated by their sister Stephanie Botko. They helped raise Stephanie after their mother was killed in a 1994 car accident while driving to Pullman for Mom’s weekend when Jennifer was a student. Other finalists were Kay Spoonemore Nelsen, Kent, nominated by her sons Brett and Eric Nelsen; and Rosemarie Ratcliff, Lacey, nominated by her daughter, Marie Ratcliff.