May 2, 1920 - January 8, 2002
The following is Tom's obituary from The Sheridan Press, January 14, 2002.
BIG HORN - Thomas Wendell "T" Cotton, 81, of Big Horn died Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2002, in Sheridan. No services are scheduled. A private family gathering will be this summer. Arrangements are with Champion Ferries Funeral Home.
Mr. Cotton was born May 2, 1920, on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in Montana to Dr. Wendell Thomas and Ruth Cotton.
He was raised by his grandmother, Ella Cotton Henschke, in Sheridan, where he attended school and graduated from high school in 1938.
He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1940 and was stationed in Panama, where he trained as a fighter pilot. He was among the first U.S. pilots assigned in 1942 to Gen. Claire Chenault's "Flying Tigers," which became the 75th Fighter Squadron of the 14th Air Force. He was stationed at the air base in Hengyang, China, during his tour of duty.
He married Lovena "Jinx" Pettit Feb. 22, 1946, in Reno, Nev. They spent their first year in Sheridan with Mr. Cotton's grandmother, later moving back to Mrs. Cotton's hometown of Coalinga, Calif.
Mr. Cotton operated an air-charter business serving oil companies, and was a flight instructor at Coalinga Junior College before going to work for Flying Tiger Airline, a cargo company. He retired in 1980.
He returned to the Sheridan area permanently in 1997. He was an active member of the Emergency Ham Operators network in Los Altos Hills, Calif., and a member of Sheridan Elks Lodge 520, the 14th USAF Association and the "Quiet Birdman."
Survivors include his wife of Sheridan; two sons, Wendell Reed of Bonny Doone, Calif., and Gregory Thomas of Scotts Valley, Calif.; a sister, Aloha Pettit Schaefer; and a grandson.
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