He was born Oct. 8, 1930, in Randles, Mo., son of James William and Betty Elizabeth Coomer Slinkard. He and Serrelda Frances "Sally" Pulliam were married Feb. 23, 1951, in Marble Hill, Mo.
Partly raised in the Burfordville-Gravel Hill area, as a youth he worked as a farm hand and at the Bollinger Mill. His children now recall that he wasn't afraid to do anything to provide for them, from working in the flour mills in Kansas City, to years of successful self-employment in timber, construction and selling used railroad ties.
Cotton was a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, serving honorably from Sept. 29, 1951, to Sept. 28, 1953.
He is survived by his loving wife of 60 years, Sally of Oak Ridge; four sons, Ernest "Bub" (Vickie) Slinkard and Roger (Pauline) Slinkard of Oak Ridge, David (Sue) Slinkard of Cape Girardeau, Dennis (Debbie) Slinkard of Daisy; six daughters, Deborah Wolfe, Terressa Slinkard and Karen Chamnes of Oak Ridge, Lisa (Scottie) Hollowell and Sandra Slinkard of Cape Girardeau, and Stacy (Ray) Glastetter of Jackson.
Also 19 grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; and two siblings, Ruby Brown of Jackson and Jake (Martha) Slinkard of Kansas City, Mo.
He was preceded in death by a son, Joel Slinkard (July 6, 2009), and seven siblings.
Friends may call from noon to time of service Sunday at the chapel of McCombs Funeral Home and Cremation Center in Jackson.
The Rev. Ronnie Brown will officiate the funeral at 3 p.m. Sunday at the funeral home. Burial will be at 10 a.m. Monday in Cook Cemetery at Scopus, Mo., with full military honors.
Memorials may be made to the National Kidney Foundation or American Kidney Fund.
Sympathy messages may be sent to the family online at www.mccombsfuneralhome.com.