Don Cotten, a local publisher, editor, singer, and founding member of Community Christian Church, died on June 27, 2020, after a long illness. Born March 23, 1932, in Lamesa, Texas, to Jimmy and Ruby Cotten, he was known as “Bub” by family and hometown friends. Don graduated from Lamesa High School in 1950, then completed an undergraduate degree in accounting at Texas Tech. He was stationed in Germany to serve in the Army. Upon returning, he attended graduate school for English literature at both New York University and Texas Tech. He married Virginia Reed Cammack in 1963, and they have three children.
Clear, elegant language was Don’s passion, and he built a career in writing, editing, and publishing for companies such as Boone Publications and, ultimately his own small press, Cotten Publishing. Don was particularly known for his ability to shape and hone rough narratives into polished stories and for his skill in helping inexperienced writers to find their voice.
Along with his ear for language, Don had a gift for music. He sang with the Singing Plainsmen, Lubbock’s Barbershop chorus, for more than 40 years, also serving as an officer for much of that time. He played piano and guitar, as well as singing, and even wrote songs. He combined his gifts to write many of the Singing Plainsmen’s stage shows.
Those who knew Don remember him for his kindness, his thoughtfulness, and his quiet devotion to God. He joined First Christian Church in the early 1960s. Don and Virginia were active volunteers at First Christian for decades before moving to Lubbockview Christian and later helping to establish Community Christian Church. Don’s devotion and commitment helped Community Christian to survive early challenges, setting an example as “a man with a gentle spirit, an incredible mind and a heart for God,” in the words of Pastor Randy Cook.
Don is survived by his loving wife of 57 years, Virginia; daughter Elena Westbrook of Fairview and her husband Paul; daughter Mary Randall of Hope Hull, Alabama, and her husband Vince; son James Cotten and his wife Shelley of Waco; grandchildren Tabitha Cotten Jones and her husband Josh, Kendall Westbrook, Jonathan Berkenkamp and Andrew Berkenkamp; great-grandchildren Jaxon Jones and Taylor Jones; and his beloved nieces and nephews Randy Roberts, Keepa Davis, Gayla Mull-DeWitt and Jim Roberts. He was predeceased by his parents, James Livingston and Ruby Gladys Cotten, and his sisters, Wynelle and Jimmie Lee.
A memorial service will be held when conditions allow.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to your favorite local food bank or to the Don and Virginia Cotten Endowed Scholarship Fund at McLennan Community College, care of MCC Foundation, 1400 College Drive, Waco, Texas 76708 or online at mclennan.edu/Foundation.