John Cotton

January 15, 1911
- May 30, 2007

SEBEC - John Cotton, 96, died May 30, 2007. He had suffered for several months with a combination of ailments related to his advanced age. He was Sebec's oldest citizen. John was the son of John Storrs Cotton of Burnt Hills, N.Y., and Ada Gertrude Chapple of Little Falls, N.Y. He was born Jan. 15, 1911, in Washington, D.C., where he spent his childhood. After his graduation from the University of Maryland in 1934, he went to work for the Civilian Conservation Corps. John married Marion Catherine Hoglund, in 1936. Later he taught at the University of Maryland and became an extension soil conservationist for the Maryland State Extension Service. In the course of this employment, he established soil conservation districts in 20 of the state's 23 counties. While studying for his master's degree in agricultural economics at the University of Maryland, he published several articles and bulletins. After leaving academia, John and his partner, Ed Davis, started the Greenway Planting Service, which seeded and sodded schools, factories, highways and large military installations. In 1952, he and Marion purchased Kinsdene, an old estate in Glenwood, Md. Throughout the years the couple became the largest Christmas tree growers in Maryland and West Virginia, and one of the largest in Maine. At one time, the family's Kinsdene Nursery was probably the largest retail operation by volume in the Baltimore-Washington region, selling more than 500,000 azaleas in the area. At the end of his career, John returned to the academic community and taught part-time at the University of Maryland. In 1976, the family retired and moved to Maine. Here, John was instrumental in establishing a low-head hydroelectric plant at the head of the Sebec River. Perhaps the greatest tragedy to strike the Cottons was the death of their daughter, Elizabeth, in a fire that destroyed the Glenwood family home. In addition to being a successful businessman, throughout his career John distinguished himself as a tireless worker, community activist and noted philanthropist. Some of the offices that he held throughout the years, included president of Maryland Christmas Tree Growers' Association; president of Maryland State Forestry Board; chairman of a Boy Scout Troop; president of a local Lion's Club; treasurer of Oak Grove Cemetery, Glenwood, Md.; director of his Kiwanis Club; and a member of Maine's Eastern Task Force Transportation Advisory Committee. John remained treasurer of his Alpha Gamma Rho Chapter at the University of Maryland for almost 10 years after his graduation. Maryland's governor honored him with the state's Distinguished Citizen Service Award. For his exemplary community service, Kentucky Gov. Paul Patton commissioned John a colonel in 2001. For a man of his caliber, it was not enough to give time and energy to his community; he and Marion made several important gifts to causes close to their hearts, including Foxcroft Academy, Union College, and Dover-Foxcroft YMCA. Even when he wintered in Arizona, John supported the Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix, becoming its oldest volunteer. John's successes were not due to hard work alone. They required intelligence, commitment, creativity and what he himself recognized when he said, "Two essential factors drive a man's success, without them he can not consistently outperform all others. These are a sense of urgency and a lack of complacency." John lived by his own maxims. His unselfish and generous spirit will be greatly missed by his family, friends, the Maine and Maryland communities, and those who had the good fortune to know him in his long and exemplary life. Surviving are his son, Mark and wife, Peggy Neiser Cotton, of Taneytown, Md.; son, John and wife, Janet Hobbs Cotton, of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; grandchildren, Melissa, Mark II, Dawne, John and Elizabeth; and great-grandchildren, Morgan, Ashton, Robert, Elizabeth and Caroline. Memorial services will be held 10 a.m. Saturday, June 16, at Dover-Foxcroft Congregational Church with the Rev. Heather Kurtz officiating. Friends are invited to share fellowship and refreshments with the family after at the church. Those who wish may make memorial contributions to Piscataquis Regional YMCA, 48 Park St., Dover-Foxcroft, ME 04426. Arrangements are in the care of Lary Funeral Home, Dover-Foxcroft. Condolences and memories may be left at

Previous: Malcom F. Stockwell
Memoriam Home