Donald Gene Cottrell, 91, Perry, passed away Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, at Stormont-Vail Health in Topeka.
Don was born April 2, 1928, at Williamstown, the son of Elmer Wilbur and Luella Bracken Cottrell. A longtime resident of the Perry area, he attended grade school at Oak Grove, a small one-room country school, and graduated from Perry Rural High School in 1946.
The day after graduating from high school, he joined the U.S. Army and served in the Occupation of Japan from 1946 to 1948.
Don was a pipefitter and welder and life member of Local 763 and 441 for 65 years. He received his 65-year service award in the spring of 2019.
He worked at the new U.S. Steel plant out of Local 597 in Chicago in the 1950s, and the missile bases in Kansas during the 1960s.
Don also worked the critical path steam welds at Lawrence Energy Center during the 1970s and finished his career welding main steam at Jeffrey Energy Center units 1 and 2.
Don was a respected craftsman and loved his brothers and sisters of the United Association.
He was also a member of the Perry United Methodist Church and the American Legion Post No. 142 in Perry.
Don married the love of his life, Nova Lee Viles, on Dec. 24, 1949, in Topeka. They would have celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary this Christmas Eve.
After retirement they took on the project of saving the historical Charles Curtis House at 11th Street and Topeka Boulevard in Topeka in 1993. Curtis was the first Native American to ever reach the high office of vice president of the United States. Now known as the Charles Curtis House Museum, it is one of the historical attractions of Topeka. At the age of 80, Don replaced all of the plumbing in the house.
The Topeka Cemetery has offered honorary grave space for the Cottrell’s near the grave of Vice President Curtis where the family plans to place a memorial stone.
Mr. Cottrell is survived by his wife, Nova; one daughter, Patricia J. “Patty” Dannenberg and her husband, Rob, Perry; two sons, Donald E. “Gene” Cottrell, and James E. Cottrell, both Perry; six grandchildren, Holly Colbert, Lecompton, Dustin Cottrell, Perry, Wade Cottrell, Baldwin City, Wes Cottrell, Perry, Donnie Cottrell, Topeka, Jacob Cottrell, Norfolk, Va.; 13 great-grandchildren; two sisters, Edith Newell, Oskaloosa, and Evelyn (Ron) Brannock, Topeka; and many cousins, nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by three brothers, infant Alfred Cottrell, James Oliver Cottrell, and Elmer Junior Cottrell, and one grandson, infant Donald E. Cottrell.
A private family service with Legion Military honors will be held at a later date.
Memorials may be made to Jefferson County Friends of Hospice or the American Legion Post No. 142 in Perry and sent in care of Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home, 601 Indiana Street, Lawrence, 66044.