Mar 15, 2024

Gary Ward Cotter was born on a rainy spring night in 1958, in Hendersonville, North Carolina. He departed quietly at 3:17 AM, January 3, 2024 at the age of 65, in the care of Hospice at the Elizabeth House in Henderson County.

Gary’s Western North Carolina heritage includes early pioneer names including Ward, Jordon, Hawkins, Johnson, Sexton and Shipman along with many others.

Gary loved country music. He loved playing the drums and was never without a set on hand to play. He took to mountain dance as a child, dancing with the Blue Ridge Mountain Cloggers headed by James Kesterson and wife Arlene, dancing at the Osceola Lake Inn and competing in clogging competitions throughout the southeast where he won regional and nation awards for clogging. Later he started his own team called The Piney Mountain Dancers.

Gary loved Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Peanuts gang and in the 1960’s when he was only 6 or 7 years old, he and his sister entered in the Hendersonville Apple Festival Parade. His sister was dressed in a handmade Pilgrim girl outfit carrying an apple basket. Gary was dressed head to toe as Snoopy with a large snout, floppy ears and welding goggles like Snoopy The Red Baron carrying a sign saying Snoopy for President. His friend Chris Romstadt was dressed as Linus. All three walked together with Gary exuberantly waving to the crowd having the time of his life. The crowd just loved Snoopy. Gary’s costume was made from a white bed sheet. He won first place that day.

Gary attended East Flat Rock Elementary School, Newton Elementary in Asheville, Valley Springs Elementary in Arden, and graduated from TC Roberson in 1976. His intention was to become an architect and build things, although he chose a different career. He did build a massive model train dioramas creating each piece by hand. His first diorama was  at age 7 for science class depicting dinosaurs and won first place. He was also an artist and sculptor of clay.

He traveled with his parents and sister up and down the east coast and they even lived out of the country in Venezuela. He chose to move back to Hendersonville early on after graduating.

For many years he volunteered with the Valley Hill Fire Department as a first responder with EMT training  where he made lasting friendships. Later he began work in the food industry with employment at Winn Dixie and Ingles. He ran a route for a bread company and had a route with Snyders. He also worked in the furniture industry at Haverty”s. His final career was in landscaping and grounds care especially focused on The Oaks in Hendersonville.

After a heart attack at age 60 he had to stop work altogether. He still continued to use his hands to create. He was easily identifiable with his designer cowboy boots and Richard Petty cowboy hat garnering him the nickname “Cowboy.”

Gary’s belief in God sustained him throughout a long illness as he looked for relief from almost constant pain. He looked forward upon death of being reunited with his wife over 30 years, Pam and other loved ones

Gary will be greatly missed by his mother Carol Jean Ward Cotter of Arden, his sister Sheila Cotter Rogers and her husband Daniel (Danny) Rogers of Laurel Park in Hendersonville. His father Adrian proceeded him in death. Gary will be greatly missed by his ever devoted dog BooBear along with numerous friends and family.

We wish him a safe and swift journey to the other side where his loved ones will welcome him with open arms.