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.
This is the most beautiful tribute that I have ever read! It brought me to tears, but also made me proud to know of such an amazing, loving human. I am proud to know his daughter Susan! My thoughts are with your whole family!
What a beautiful testimony. Andy will be sorely missed by his wonderful family. My prayers are with you.
So enjoyed reading about his colorful life. Condolences to his family.
That sounds like it was a good life well lived. Please accept my deepest condolences.
Semper Fi, Marine! May you Rest In Peace.
We are saddened to hear of his passing. We count he and Carol as valued friends. One time when they lived in Springfield, we called as we were passing through and met them at a neighborhood McDonalds. 4 hours later, we were on our way home. Andy and I ran 2 marathons together at Drake (along with Judge Jim Andreasen). His wit got us through some long hills and tough runs. Sincere wishes of comfort to the family
What a wonderful life Andy lived! He will missed by all. I have several of the rosaries he made and treasure them dearly. Prayers for your family.
Lovingly written tribute he would have been proud to have read. Every time I saw a picture of your parents they were always holding hands. I know how much you will miss him and I am sending prayers for the family.
What an inspiring man. I know that however old our parents become their passing is such a loss. He was an amazing man who raised my dear friend Sally, who is as loving and wonderful as her dad. God Bless you and your family and please hug your mom for me. You are all in my prayers
Sally & Bob,
My condolences on your loss. I will keep you in my prayers. May God grant you comfort and peace.
It has been a long journey with your parents. What a beautiful tribute to your father. You are so blessed to have had your father for so long . He is now in another happy place smiling gown upon his children. God bless all of you. Jere Heck
Beautiful! Love and prayers to the family!!
You all have our deepest sympathy on the loss of your husband and father. Our prayers are with you all. May you find peace in the love your father had for each of you.
The amazing life he led will surely grant him admittance to the kingdom of heaven. Many condolences to Carol, Sally, Susan, and family. Rest well, Mr. Cotten. Semper Fi
To the family of Andrew Cotten. I just want to provide comfort for you during your time of sorrow. Please read the following scriptures in you own copy of the bible and they will give you hope that you will see them again:
Acts 24:15, 2 Corinthians 1:2,4,
Hebrew 2: 15,
I Corinthians 15: 26,
Job 14, 14, 15
You will find these scriptures give an assured hope that God cares about you and your suffering and has made plans to end death and suffering. Please read the scriptures carefully to get their meaning. If you enjoy what you have read, you can find more interesting information on http://www.jw.org.
Beautiful Tribute! Condolences to the family.
Such a lovely tribute so such a special man!!! We were honored to know, and love, Andy and Carol, and have missed them since they moved away. We think of them every May Day, and many other times. I didn’t know all of this about Andy’s life and so glad to have learned it now! They were the happiest faced people I have ever known, they brightened your day just by BEING there! They are true representations of Christ! And I am sure Carol still is!
Love and prayers,
Tim and Mary Noonan
(If a family member can get me Carol’s address, the Christmas cards keep being returned.)
Dear Sally and Bob,
What a beautiful tribute to your dad, (father-in-law)! We wish we had known Andrew! What a remarkable man! He was an exceptional father, husband and true friend to many!
We’re so thankful he has left so many wonderful memories in the hearts of your family and so many others!
God’s Grace and Peace to you and your family!
Maria & Scott
This was a beautiful write up for one of the kindest souls I have ever met. He gave me one of those rosary’s for my kiddos and talked so highly of his wife and children. I am so proud to have met and known this gentleman. Prayers are with the family.
Thank you. That is so kind of you to share. His Rosaries have been shipped all over the U.S. Dad sent to the prisons and to a lot of Catholic schools for children’s First Holy Communion celebrations. Some of the schools still use them in their classrooms. Dad was definitely a sweetheart and missed so much.
What an incredible mark he left on the world