It is with heavy hearts that we share the passing of John Cotner. To know him was to instantly like him. He was the epitome of a gentleman and never met a stranger. His hearty laugh could become uncontrollable. His word and handshake were as binding as any legal document he wrote. These traits served him well as an attorney for 46 years.
John passed away Friday, July 7, 2023 in Greenville, SC following 4 long years of living with frontal temporal dementia. The family is grateful to his care teams at Comfort Keepers, The Oaks at Chanticleer, Interim Hospice of SC, The Center for Success in Aging at Prisma Health, and the many friends for their love and support.
John Michael Cotner was born March 17, 1945 (St. Patrick’s Day) to Hebert W. Cotner and Martha V. Harris Cotner of Wapakoneta, Ohio. He graduated from Wapakoneta High School 1963 and Ohio Northern University 1967 where he was president of Delta Sigma Phi Fraternity. In 1970, John earned a Juris Doctorate Degree from Ohio Northern University College of Law and was admitted into the Ohio State Bar Association.
Before joining the Troy law firm of Shipman, Utrecht & Dixon in 1972 John was employed by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland District 3. John formed his own law practice in 1986 until retiring in 2016. He was proud to be a member of the Ohio State Bar Association and served on the Select Committee Ohio State Bar Association to study multiple systems of ethics and discipline in Ohio. He was a member of the Miami County Bar Association for 44 years and served as past president and VP, and on its Ethics Committee. John was a member of the US Federal District Court for the Southern and Northern District of Ohio, the US Supreme Court Bar and served on the Advisory Board for Ohio Northern University College of Law for 15 years.
In addition to supporting and coaching his children’s activities John was active member of the Troy Rotary Club, the Troy Rotary Foundation Board, the Troy Country Club, past president of Miami County American Cancer Society, and past president of Lincoln Community Center Board of Directors. He was an active member of Troy Lutheran Church and more recently of Point Washington United Methodist Church in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.
John’s happiest joys were his children, their spouses and his grandchildren. He loved the law, gardening and yard work, fishing in Canada and Florida, reading and talking history, playing the stock market, Alabama and Vanderbilt Universities, SEC sports, the Gulf of Mexico beaches, and playing golf with Florida friends. John always loved handsome clothes, beautiful cars, Motown and Blue Grass music (especially Bill Monroe), and the old church hymns.
Surviving include Cheryl Burcham Cotner of Greenville, SC; Matt (Elizabeth) Cotner and grandchildren Matthew Cotner, Jr. and Mary Branch Cotner of Greenville, SC; (Craig) Susan Cotner Rutkowski and grandchildren Collins John Rutkowski and Martha Caroline Rutkowski of Santa Rosa Beach, FL.
A private family service will be held later this month. The family invites friends wishing to make charitable donations in John’s memory to consider the Youth Programming at Lincoln Community Center of Troy or the Scholarship Fund at Miami County Bar Association.