Carol Marie Cotten (Caroline Marie Orlikowski), peacefully entered heaven at 12:40 p.m. CST on June 27, 2019. For almost 90 years, our world was blessed with her joyful presence. She was preceded in death by her husband of almost 66 years, Andrew Jackson Cotten, Jr., D.V.M., who passed away 33 days before Carol (on May 25, 2019). They leave behind eight children and their families, including thirteen grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. Carol and Andrew were inseparable; their undying love and devotion saw them through to the end.
Born in Cleveland, Ohio to Mary Anne (Dydo) Orlikowski and Louis Orlikowski. Carol was an only child. Her grandfather, Frank Dydo, owned and operated a family bakery in Cleveland, Ohio where Carol spent her time when she wasn’t in school.
Carol graduated from Cleveland’s Notre Dame Academy High School in June 1947 and went on to Kent State University where in June 1951 she earned her Bachelor of Science in Education, with a special certificate in home economics. She was a member of the Chi Omega Sorority and an active member of Kent State Choir. Carol’s first job after graduation was on the faculty at Lincoln High School where she taught Home Economics.
Carol decided to spend a summer pursuing an advanced degree at Iowa State University, and that is where she met her future husband, Andrew Cotten, Jr., D.V.M. Carol and Andrew were married on December 26, 1953 and soon after, they moved to Grundy Center, Iowa to begin a family and a veterinary practice. Several years later, and after the birth of four children, Carol and Andrew moved to Algona, Iowa to build a successful veterinary practice which expanded to several other clinics in nearby towns. During their time in Algona, Carol worked tirelessly alongside Andrew to support his career as a veterinarian and raise their growing family.
Coming from a musical family, Carol developed her talent as a vocalist while in high school and college, and remained a lover of music throughout her life, instilling an appreciation of music in her children and grandchildren. She played both the organ and piano. Later on in life, Carol was the soloist for many weddings at St. Cecilia’s Church in Algona, Iowa.
Carol made sure that each of her eight children had one-on-one time with her when possible. It was not uncommon for her to wake one of the children at 4:00 a.m. to go to “The Chrome” for coffee and pancakes. When asked why she did that with each of her kids, she said, “Because this is how I get to know my children. One at a time.” If asked how many children she had, she would respond, “I have eight only children.”
Carol taught all of her children to sew, help with household chores and prepare meals. Carol made most of the clothing for her daughters and she managed to make time to teach other children how to sew.
Practicing an open door policy for family and friends, at any given time, there was someone other than a Cotten at her home, as she made everyone feel welcome. An expert hostess, she knew how to throw a party, complete with a special meal and a centerpiece of flowers from her garden. She could whip up a meal for a large group in no time at all, with homemade bread as a staple. She was known for her homemade butter horn rolls that she would have ready when the kids came home after school. Carol believed in daily adventures and having fun every day, while simultaneously managing a clean, well-organized home.
A devout Catholic, Carol had an unwavering faith with a special devotion to the Blessed Mother. For many years, she was a member of the Legion of Mary and a member of Catholic Daughters of America. Carol also was a firm believer in breastfeeding and was a facilitator for La Leche League that met frequently at Carol and Andrew’s home. She was a positive role model for not only her daughters, but other women, supporting them with their new babies. She helped her daughter and daughters-in-law when new babies arrived. She could calm any baby, and she had a gift of being able to take over the duties of a home for a new mom without being intrusive.
Carol had a unique ability to remain positive and supportive despite life’s challenges, never hesitating to praise and honor talents in others. She had a positive quote for any life challenge. On negativity: “Don’t complain—that makes your pain someone else’s pain.” On forgiveness: “Don’t talk about it ever again once someone tells you ‘I am sorry.’ That is true forgiveness.” On being overwhelmed: “Every job looks bigger than it really is.” On kindness: “Always speak to everyone. You may be the only person that acknowledged their existence that day.” Or, “Be kind. You never know the personal battles that person is facing.” On frustration: “If you don’t like what life looks like, stand on your head!” On loneliness and fear: “Remember. You are NEVER alone. God is ALWAYS with you.” Her encouragement and support to those around her will be forever cherished.
In one of Carol’s notes to her children, she wrote, “Remember this: There will be no weeping or wailing at my death. Life has been fun!”
A special thank you to Lakeview Nursing Home staff and administration (Lenexa, KS), and Great Lakes Caring Hospice for their loving care, kindness and support. Carol’s entire family extends their sincere appreciation to all of those who have touched her life in some way, either big or small.
Private services will be held for both Carol and Andrew Cotten at a later date. In lieu of flowers, please donate to Sunflower House (Sunflowerhouse.org) (Safety Housing for Abused Children); and Little Sisters of the Poor (littlesistersofthepoorkansascity.org).