Arthur James Cotterell of Summit, New Jersey passed away peacefully on Thursday, March 21, 2019 at his home at the age of 89.
Visitation will be held on Friday, March 29 from 2 to 4pm and from 7 to 9pm at the Bradley, Brough and Dangler Funeral Home 299 Morris Avenue, Summit, NJ. There will be a Mass of Christian Burial held at St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church 306 Morris Avenue, Summit, NJ on Saturday, March 30 at 9:30am. Interment will be at St. Teresa of Avila Cemetery in Summit, NJ following the Mass.
Rather than flowers, donations may be made in Art’s name to the Summit Rescue Squad or the Summit Historical Society.
Art was born in Summit, New Jersey, the son of Elizabeth Ann (nee Walsh) and Harold Joseph Cotterell. He graduated from St. Teresa’s School and Summit High School where he earned his varsity letters in football, basketball and baseball.
He served in the Assault Gun Company First Battalion Third Armored Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army after high school where he was trained to drive a tank. He remained in the Army active reserves for 7 years and was honorably discharged at the rank of Sergeant. During his time of active service, his passion and skill in basketball earned him a spot on the Divisional team at Fort Meade in Maryland.
When Art returned to Summit after serving in the Army, his love of basketball opened another door of opportunity for him. One night after playing a pick-up game of basketball at the Summit YMCA with the CIBA pharmaceutical team, a member of the team asked him what he was doing now that he had returned from military service. Responding that he was looking for a job, he was told the name of the person at CIBA to visit the next morning to get signed up for a job. Needless to say, he also became a starting player for the CIBA team. Art worked at CIBA for 14 years in the tablet and ointment division.
It was at CIBA that Art met the love of his life, Mary Jane, another life-long resident of Summit. They married and spent 66 years together as best friends and soul mates. Wherever they went, if you saw one you usually saw both of them.
Shortly after the birth of their first child, Art decided he should go to college so that he could be a role model for his children. He attended Seton Hall University on a part-time basis at night while continuing to work at CIBA during the day. After 6½ years, he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Social Studies. He was awarded the academic medal of excellence in his major becoming the first night student who was recognized with that honor.
When Art was presented with the opportunity to further his studies and teach at the college level, he decided instead to teach at the high school level so he could coach. After completing his student teaching at Summit High School, he was hired in 1964 as a member of the Social Studies Department as well as an assistant football coach and freshman baseball coach. At the same time he returned to Seton Hall at night and in 1970 he completed his Master of Arts degree in History. In 1985 he earned another Master of Arts degree in Educational Administration from Kean University.
Teaching was a way of life for Art whether it was in Room 202 at Summit High School using the Socratic Method to draw out information from his students or on the athletic fields. In an interview a few years ago he talked about his career. He said “I enjoyed coaching as much as I enjoyed teaching history. I don’t think I would change anything at all about what I did.”
As he moved along in his career at Summit High School, he served briefly as interim Vice Principal and then later became Chairman of the Social Studies Department. He left his football coaching position to become the varsity baseball coach. The baseball team experienced great success with many championships, an overall winning record, and many players going on to play baseball in college with six players being drafted by Major League teams. Art experienced personal success as well in winning a variety of coaching awards over the years. In 2005 he was inducted into the New Jersey Scholastic Baseball Coaches’ Hall of Fame and in 2017 he was inducted into the Summit High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
After 28 years of fighting the Battle of Bunker Hill standing on top of his desk with his pointer to demonstrate the position of the American forces as they fired on the British, Art retired from teaching at Summit High School. In retirement Art and Mary Jane spent their time visiting their 3 children and 10 grandchildren, traveling overseas to do genealogical research, and volunteering at the Summit Historical Society where Art served two terms as president of the organization.
Art was a quiet man with a commitment to excellence which he displayed on a daily basis to everyone he met. He was passionate about impacting the lives of his children and his students, both in the classroom and on the athletic fields.
Art went to his first Yankees baseball game in 1941 and as he said “he was mesmerized.” He became a life-long fan. In recent years he has offered his coaching opinions to the television set as he watched every game from his recliner. He was also a very loyal supporter of the Seton Hall men’s basketball team – first as a season ticket holder with Mary Jane and later from his recliner again offering coaching opinions to the television set during every game.
Whether it was talking Dom Guida into riding their bicycles through the Holland Tunnel in elementary school, calling a technical foul on Red Ahearn while refereeing a JV basketball game, camping with his kids, or traveling to Ireland and England with Mary Jane, Art lived a full life with family, friends, students and athletes. He will be sorely missed, yet he will remain in our hearts forever.
Art is survived by his beloved wife, Mary Jane (nee Callahan); his sisters Anne Marie Cotterell Tighe and Jean Cotterell; his three children Pat, Bob (Lori) and Tom; 10 grandchildren (Kevin, Kathleen, Tommy, Matthew, Megan, Jason, Tyler, Shannon, Ryan and Erin); 5 great-grandchildren (Arya, Harper, Finnegan, Jack and Owen); and numerous nieces and nephews. Art was predeceased by his mother Elizabeth Ann Walsh Cotterell, his father Harold Joseph Cotterell, and his sister Margaret Elizabeth Cotterell Armstrong.
Husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, teacher and coach – his life is remembered and celebrated!