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Curtis J. Cotton; 1938-2014: Rogers principal played semipro football

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Cotton

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Curtis J. Cotton, who made Rogers High School his second home there as a longtime administrator, died July 3 in Toledo Hospital. He was 75.

Mr. Cotton had congestive heart failure for about two years and most recently pneumonia and respiratory failure, his wife, Martha, said.

He retired in 1997 as Rogers principal after 28 years with the Toledo Public Schools. He was at Rogers for 20 years, the first 18 years of which as assistant principal for activities.

“Whatever needed to be done, he was there to orchestrate it and see things went very well,” said Pariss “Mike” Coleman, a friend since the late 1960s who was principal of Old West End Junior High.

That meant his wasn’t an 8 to 3:30 job, Mr. Cotton’‍s wife said.

“He would always have to go back for all the basketball and football games and drama club activities,” she said.

The Cottons were longtime residents of the Rogers neighborhood, and “the kids would stop by the house all the time,” his wife said.

While easygoing, he had a reputation for being straightforward.

“Cotton was the kind of guy who in many cases if you didn’t want to know what he really thought, don’‍t ask him,” Mr. Coleman said.

He was born Oct. 20, 1938, and was a graduate of Druid High School in Tuscaloosa, Ala. He played football for legendary coach Eddie Robinson at what was then Grambling College. He tried out for NFL teams and came to Toledo to play for the semipro Tornadoes.

He received bachelor’s and master’‍s degrees from the University of Toledo. He taught at Fulton and Robinson schools before becoming a community coordinator in the Rogers High district.

“He would keep you laughing,” said his wife, who was a Grambling freshman when they met. “You wouldn’t have a dull moment. He was a great storyteller.”

Surviving are his wife, Martha, whom he married Feb. 27, 1960; daughter, Kimberly Thornwell; sons Bruce and Curtis J. Cotton, Jr.; half sister, Miriam Cotton, and three grandchildren.

Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Friday in St. Martin de Porres Church, where visitation will begin at 9 a.m., with Alpha Phi Alpha rites at 10 a.m.

The family suggests tributes to St. Martin de Porres or the American Heart Association.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.

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