Tony Lee Cotten, 47, passed away Thursday, May 9, 2013, in LaGrange, Ky.
Born on Sept. 12, 1965, in Crawfordsville, he was the son of James and Loretta (Montgomery) Cotten, who preceded him in death. He graduated from Crawfordsville High School and Purdue University, with a bachelor’s degree in English education.
Tony married Tina Wilhite on June 15, 1991, at their home in Crawfordsville. A devoted husband and proud father, his greatest joy was encouraging his children in their academic, athletic, extracurricular and professional lives, along with watching his grandchildren grow in his loving family. In his career, Tony thrived in any environment and made a positive impression on many as a teacher, coach and manager in various roles. He became a talented journalist, author and a passionate and innovative entrepreneur.
Tony was the CEO and owner of Tenacity, Inc., and founded the Sun Times and The Daily Sun in Boone County. In 2010, he became publisher of The Oldham Era, serving Oldham County and LaGrange, Ky. He is the author of “Horseshoes and Hand Grenades: An Entrepreneur’s Close Call with Big Business.” Under his leadership, Tony’s newspapers won numerous Hoosier State Press Association and Kentucky Press Association awards. He was equal parts commander, mentor and friend to his staffs, and a tireless volunteer, promoter, sponsor and donor to causes in the communities where his newspapers circulated. Tony was also an ordained minister with the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and he preached regularly at Bethel AME Church in Crawfordsville.
Tony rooted for the underdog, championed the small business owner and looked first for stories that inspired. He knew everyone had a story to tell, and his own was extraordinary. He relished the quest for “the best pizza” and other culinary treasures, and found them small-town cafés and diners. He embraced a good challenge and successfully lobbied for a change in Indiana state code that affected newspapers. He battled cancer through American Cancer Society Relay for Life events in two states — long before his own diagnosis.
In addition to wife Tina, survivors include his children, Courtny (Samantha) Cotten, Carmel; Trace (Gary) Cotten, Indianapolis; Kimberly (Scott) Elmore, Berea, Ky.; KC McCandless, Crawfordsville; and Levi (Erin) McCandless, Crawfordsville; a brother, Lari Cotten of Crawfordsville; and grandchildren Aaliyah, Noah, Jonah and Isaiah Elmore; Lillyan and Eva McCandless; and Ella and Lauren Arthur. Another grandchild, “Baby Cotten,” is due in October 2013.
Tony was preceded in death by one grandson, Dylan.
Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. on Monday, May 13, at Woodland Heights Christian Church, 468 N. Woodland Heights Drive, Crawfordsville.
Funeral services begin at 10 a.m. Tuesday, May 14, at the church, with the Rev. Tony Thomas officiating.
Burial will immediately follow at Freedom Cemetery in Waveland.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to American Cancer Society Relay for Life at www.relayforlife.org.
Myers Mortuary, 1502 N. Lebanon St., in Lebanon, is handling the arrangements.
Online condolences may be made at myersmortuary.com.
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- Patrick J. Moore