Marcellus “Ted” Cotten was born Aug. 30, 1923, in a farmhouse outside Ballinger, Texas, to George Jackson and Daisy Jewel Cotten. He grew up in Levelland, Texas, and attended Levelland schools through the 11th grade. He then graduated from San Marcos Baptist Academy in San Marcos, Texas.
He joined the Navy after graduation and served as a medic at a hospital in Subic Bay in the Philippines during World War II. He was based out of Seattle where he met and married his first wife, Dorothy Elinor Huston. He then graduated from Hardin Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, preparing for the ministry. He felt the call on his life to the ministry at the age of 12. His mother told of knowing he would be a minister before he was born, which prompted her to give him the ministerial-sounding name of Marcellus.
He served in the churches in Texas where daughter Chris was born. While serving as pastor in Compton, Calif., daughters Janet and Georgiana joined the family. Ted moved to Longview in 1966 to pastor the First Baptist Church. After serving First Baptist, he spent three years in Lodi, Calif., and served the denomination and churches in Longview and Southwest Washington since that time.
Ted was most recently leading and preaching at a noon service Wednesdays for seniors called Keen-Agers at Valley Christian Fellowship in Longview. His greatest desire was to lead as many people to a personal relationship with God as possible. Around the age of 82, God gave him a prayer that he put on a card to give to people that made this easy and non-threatening. Ted would ask, “May I share a prayer with you that changed my life?” It read: “Dear God, I know I have sinned and done wrong, please forgive me of my sin and give me eternal life. I now trust You Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior. Help me to have a growing relationship with You, and to become the Christian person You want me to be. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
He was preceded in death by his first wife, Dorothy in 2005, his parents, two brothers, and three nieces.
Ted is survived by his second wife, Alice Peters Cotten; his daughters, Chris Cotten of Longview, Janet DeFoore (Rick) of Anson, Texas, and Georgiana Arakaki of Honolulu, Hawaii; four stepchildren, Deborah Smith (Scott) of Chengdu, China, Rebekah Dempsey (Gene) of Kent, Wash., Stephen Peters (Julie) of Spokane, and Philip Peters (Elaine) of Longview; 13 grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren; and four nieces.
A celebration of Ted’s life is planned for 1 p.m. Saturday at the First Baptist Church in Longview. Family and friends are invited to pay their last respects from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday at Columbia Funeral Service.