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Patricia Cotton

April 1, 1931 –
 April 14, 2023


Pat Cotton, longtime Dallas political consultant, beloved mother, and wife of petroleum engineer and Scoutmaster Hugh J. Cotton, passed peacefully from this earth to Heaven on April 14, 2023, after a brief illness. She had just celebrated her 92nd birthday on Saturday, April 1 st , with a cup of her favorite ice cream, Baskin Robbins Jamoca Almond Fudge, and a sip or two of Bailey’s Irish Cream.

She left innumerable fond memories behind with sons Steve and Mark, and with hundreds of friends and political colleagues from years past. Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to Rylen and Ruth Rudy on April 1, 1931, Pat grew up during her teen years as a latchkey child, amusing herself and reading extensively during the day while mom and dad both worked. Pat attended high school in Tulsa then moved with the family to Kansas City, Missouri, where her father worked for Santa Fe Trucking. She then moved to Wichita, Kansas in her junior year of high school—a move which “killed her,” she said, because her then-boyfriend was going to be the Colonel at the Prom the next year and “she would be the Colonel’s girlfriend.” But it was in Wichita that she met the love of her life, Hugh, a shy, modest, very bright young man at East Wichita High. She attended two years of college at Wichita University majoring in Voice “because she didn’t want to take chemistry.” Hugh was the first man she ever went on a blind date with with friends, and she liked him right away. He was “sweet, shy, a very nice boy,” she says. They went on to marry August 28, 1951 in Wichita at the First Presbyterian Church and she served as the secretary to the President of Wichita State Bank, receiving a promotion to that position after the bank vice-president left.

Hugh was in the Naval Reserve, went into the Navy later in 1951 and they spent time in Long Beach, California, while he served as a fire control officer aboard the USS Harry E. Hubbard, a destroyer. Oldest son, Steve, was born in May, 1955. Upon Hugh’s honorable discharge from the Navy, they then spent two years in Norman, Oklahoma, at the University of Oklahoma while Hugh studied to be a petroleum engineer and Pat served as the President of the Engineers’ Wives Club. She worked at the local Federal Savings and Loan and clerked in the VA and FHA home loan departments where she says “she met everyone in town.”

Hugh’s first job after college was as a fledgling oil field engineer with Hunt Oil Company (as in H.L. Hunt, the Dallas conservative oil millionaire). They lived in Houma, Louisiana, where younger brother Mark was born in 1961, then Hugh was transferred to Dallas, Texas, late that year to the Hunt headquarters in downtown Dallas. On November 22, 1963, Hugh was high up in the First National Bank building, looking down on the Kennedy motorcade passing way below when shocking news of the Kennedy Assassination came on the radio and TV early that afternoon. Pat remembers sitting at home on the fireplace hearth transfixed by the evolving TV coverage of one of the nation’s most horrific events. Years later, the family joined Walnut Hill Methodist Church where she sang alto in the choir, one of her other favorite things in life—music.

As her boys progressed in school in North Dallas, she became a frequent school volunteer, PTA mom, and Cub Scout Pack Den Mother. She was President of the PTA at Steve and Mark’s high school, Thomas Jefferson High School in 1973, the year Steve graduated. She remembers making little round paper cut-out campaign buttons with a cotton ball glued to them when Steve ran unsuccessfully for TJ Student Council President, her first unofficial political campaign activity. A Cub Scout Den Mother and supportive wife of Boy Scout Troop 33 Scoutmaster Hugh, she was quite proud when son Steve earned his Eagle Scout badge in 1970. When Steve entered college in 1973, Pat took a job as Coordinator for Plan A, a program to help children with learning disabilities, at Walnut Hill Elementary School, an official position with the Dallas Independent School District. She next worked at Hillcrest High School for two years very closely with their black principal and built wonderful relationships with students and faculty of all races. This was where she developed a strong interest in the Dallas school board’s policies and politics. After Steve’s graduation from college in 1977, Pat began her career of volunteering in all sorts of political campaigns—for local Dallas school board candidates, city and county judicial races, county commissioners elections and local congressional races. In partisan races, she most often supported the Republican candidates—but not always. She always put the character of her candidate ahead of party affiliation. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Pat worked with Republican womens’ clubs all over Dallas, often coordinating volunteer activities for various candidates, and she helped turn Dallas County into a then-majority Republican county. She volunteered and coordinated campaign work for veteran US Congressmen Jim Collins and Steve Bartlett, City Councilman Jerry Bartos, Mayor Steve Bartlett, County Commissioner Maurine Dickey, City Councilman Mitchell Rasansky, Councilwoman Ann Margolin, County Commissioners Jim Jackson and Nancy Judy, and numerous judges and school board candidates. In 1978, she served as a volunteer with the Bill Clements for Governor campaign and helped this first-time candidate win countywide, and statewide, as the first Republican Governor of Texas in more than 100 years.

But her political friendships crossed party lines, and she came to be well-respected in both parties as a passionate supporter of clean campaigns and honest, transparent election procedures. Every election night, she could be found with pencil in hand, pouring over election returns, precinct by precinct, talking to Dallas Election Central and Bruce Sherbet, Dallas Elections Administrator, and she became self-taught in election law and procedures. At one point, she was so widely-regarded as an expert in Texas and city election law that the Director of the Elections Division of the Texas Secretary of State would frequently consult with her from Austin about procedures and the Texas election code. In 1984, she served as a Volunteer with the Dallas County Reagan Re-Election campaign, and met British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher at a Dallas Council on World Affairs luncheon. She served as an elections consultant for many candidates who had evidence of local election fraud and she helped many Democrats as well as Republicans in non-partisan races for judicial posts, city council or school board races. She became one of the most respected political campaign consultants in Dallas County in the 1980-2010 period. Pat developed lifelong friendships in the conservative, liberal, gay, straight, black, brown and Asian communities, and came to be well-regarded as a friend to all.

Pat exhibited a life-long love of reading, and one of the favorite signs in her home  was “Go Away, I’m Reading…” She would regularly go to the Dallas Public Library, bringing home 20-30 books at a time, and have all of them read within 2-3 weeks. She loved political thrillers, legal and hospital mysteries, and yet, surprisingly, was not much of a movie buff (except for occasional Gemini drive-in in the early 1960s in Dallas). She delighted in playing many of the well-known Broadway musicals on the home record player such as Camelot, the Music Man, and South Pacific among her many favorites. As she got into her 70s, she discovered the delights of Wild Turkey bourbon, and in her 90s, Bailey’s Irish Cream. She rarely had more than one drink at a sitting, but did like an occasional frozen marguerita or two with her favorite Dallas Oak Lawn Ojeda’s Mexican food. Despite insisting “I’m not really an animal person,” she doted on Gracie, Steve’s Welsh Corgi, insisting on giving Gracie treats every afternoon.

Pat Cotton was an exceptional mother, a strong pro-American patriot, savvy political advisor, untiring school and campaign volunteer, a stickler for honest elections and an advocate for the Boy Scouts of America. She insisted she was not an animal lover despite falling in love with Steve’s Welsh Corgi, Gracie, later in life. She was an exceptional cook, and made a specialty out of chocolate chip cookies (with pecans, of course) and an original concoction called Ma Crab’s Revenge, an ice cream drink suspiciously resembling a modified version of a creamy, ice cold Golden Cadillac with kahlua and coffee ice cream.

Pat Cotton will be missed by many friends and admirers, political colleagues and former campaign and PTA volunteers. She is survived by sons Steve and Mark in Dallas. A memorial service will be held at the North Dallas Funeral Home, 2710 Valley View Lane, on Friday, May 5, 2023 at 11:00 am, with an inurnment and military honor guard service for Hugh and Pat Cotton both at the DFW National Cemetery, 2000 Mountain Creek Parkway, near Duncanville, at 3:15 pm. Those wishing to make a donation in Pat’s name and honor are invited to contribute to the Boy Scouts of America, Samaritan’s Purse, the Salvation Army or any national organization supporting election integrity.

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Liza B.Dallas, TX
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"I highly recommend this funeral home and crematorium; when I had to make and pay for my brother’s arrangements across state lines, Evelyn Montonya, in particular, demonstrated both compassion and professionalism and made a very sad and difficult situation much easier. Many thanks."
Gloria M.Dallas, TX
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"The unexpected passing of my husband was a very difficult and trying time for my boys and I. I had the good fortune of having Abel walk us thru this process. Working with him was such a weight off my shoulders. He was professional, so polite and helpful. The service was beautiful – never did I feel rushed or like just another customer. They gave me the time I needed and I appreciate that so much! Also Mr. Brooks took special care of my husband as he is a fellow mason. I would highly recommend working with Abel and North Dallas Funeral Home."
Lance G.Dallas, TX
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"Everyone at North Dallas Funeral Home was very professional, kind, and caring, in all steps of the process from the first phone call to the service held at their location. They help to make the process as easy and comforting in my opinion as to be expected, I would recommend their service to anyone. Thank You to everyone who helped me and my family. Sincerely,"
Jason H.Dallas, TX
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"As soon as the call was made to Mr. Wayne Baxter all of my brothers final needs were taken care of. They walked me through what to expect the timeline and even dealt with the cemetery and the grave diggers. I was a hot mess due to my brothers sudden and unexpected passing. The experience was seamless and made it easy for my brother’s friends and family to say their last goodbyes. They even had the size to accommodate such a large group that showed up . The package deals that they offered were cost-effective and didn’t break my bank account. They included extras and accommodations that other funeral homes charged extra for. All the staff was amazing including Mr. Don Dodd . I can not thank them enough for all their help."
The Gillilands
The Gillilands[click to read more]
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Dear John,

It was such a nice pleasure to meet you, and what you had planned for my father just took my breath away. It was so special to hear you tell us how he would just come over to talk with you. I think it brought him much comfort. Thank you for putting that Air Force article of him on your website. I am going to have a replica made of the painting of his plane to give you.

Thank you again for all you have done to honor our dad.

Love, The Gillilands


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