Andrew Jackson Cotten, Jr., DVM (“Andrew”), who retired after a long career as a large animal veterinarian, passed away at 3:20 p.m. on May 25, 2019. For close to 93 years, our world was blessed with his presence. He leaves behind his wife of almost 65 years, Carol Marie Orlikowski Cotten, their eight children and their families, including thirteen grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.
Born in Granbury, Texas to Andrew Jackson Cotten, Sr. and Bertha Lee Spear Cotten, he was the youngest of three children. However, before the age of 12, Andrew tragically lost his father, then his brother (Doyle Wesley Cotten), and finally his mother. When Andrew was orphaned, thankfully, his older sister Ada Mae Cotten Godwin and her husband, M.L. (“Tiny”) Godwin stepped in and raised Andrew.
Andrew finished high school and at 17 years of age, joined the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II, where he saw combat in the Pacific Theater. After the war, he enrolled at Texas A&M University where he completed his undergraduate and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degrees in 1950. During his undergraduate studies, he was a member of the ROTC program and after graduating from Texas A&M in 1950, he was commissioned as an Army Veterinary Corps officer. Shortly thereafter, Andrew began working toward his Ph.D. in Animal Pathology at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. This is where Andrew met the love of his life, Carol Orlikowski, and left academia to begin a family and a successful veterinary practice.
Andrew worked tirelessly alongside his beautiful bride to raise a family of eight children. He made sure that every child was educated in at least one musical instrument; several learned to play the piano and organ (and played for Catholic Masses). He also saved and was very frugal with his finances to ensure he could help all eight children finish college. College education was a priority and expected by Andrew.
He would frequently remark that his military service was one of the proudest things he ever did. In his later years, he wore the official U.S. Marine Corps warm-up jacket and a Marine Corps ball cap with pride, almost every day.
Andrew was successful as owner of several large and small animal veterinary clinics. He was a compassionate veterinarian who was empathetic with his farmer clients. Many times he would forgive debts when the farmers needed a little help.
In addition to his wife and family, Andrew had many passions. Early on, he learned to pilot small airplanes. He was interested in motorcycles for a time and rode BMW and Suzuki motorcycles when his schedule allowed. In his mid-40s, Andrew became a passionate runner, completing “he lost count of how many” marathons. One year he ran one marathon per month. He also became an avid long-distance bicycle enthusiast. Andrew encouraged and inspired many around him to take up a regular exercise routine.
Andrew had an optimistic outlook, endless energy, a cheerful demeanor and sharp wit. He was never found without a funny quip or a humorous reply. He “never knew a stranger” and brought much laughter and joy to those who crossed his path. An example of his sense of humor: on the back of Andrew’s veterinarian practice business cards it read “My Card Sir: I am somewhat of a bullshitter myself, but occasionally I like to listen to a professional. Carry on!” He made a goofy face in his photo for his driver’s license that on one occasion caused a highway patrolman to laugh so heartily that he decided to let Andrew out of a speeding ticket.
A convert to Roman Catholicism in 1953, Andrew was deeply devoted to his faith. He had a steadfast devotion to the Blessed Mother and made thousands of rosaries for the school children, prisons, and friends. Never was he found without his rosary. His rosary creations that changed over the years, slowly stopped the past five months, but his love of his family and faith in God never ceased. Some of his last words to his wife were: “You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.” “I love you so much.” “Thank you for being the best mother in the world to my children.” His last words for his children were: “I love you.” “You are the best thing that ever happened to me.” and “Please forgive me if I ever disappointed you.”
Andrew’s red hair and freckles, his southern gentleman manner, his strong faith, love of laughter, and deep abiding devotion to his wife and children. These are just a few of the amazing qualities of the man we will remember, and that we cherished so much here on earth. Andrew will remain forever in our hearts and his absence will be deeply felt by all who knew him.
A special thanks to Lakeview Nursing Home staff and administration (Lenexa, KS), Synergy Homecare, and Catholic Charity Hospice for all of their care, kindness and support. Andrew’s family will be forever grateful.
Private services will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, please donate to Catholic Charity Hospice (Catholiccharitiesks.org) and Sunflower House (Sunflowerhouse.org) (Safety Housing for Abused Children). Assistance by Funeral Advocates, LLC.