By Bob Belcher
Corsicana Daily Sun
The accolades came from friends, co-workers and members of the community.
There was a common theme among them all.
Les Cotten will be missed.
Cotten was joined by a couple hundred friends, family and supporters Friday for a reception for his “pending” retirement.
Cotten will bring a close to his 45 year career in law enforcement on Dec. 31, 2012, when his term as Navarro County Sheriff comes to a close.
From memories of his early days as a dispatcher with the Corsicana Police Department through his election to Sheriff in 1992, Cotten was honored for his service by friends and colleagues.
County Judge H.M. Davenport Jr. presented Cotten with a proclamation of Nov. 9 as “Les Cotten Appreciation Day.”
“Integrity, faithful, professional, common sense, straightforward, friendly, dignity and legacy,” said Pastor Rick Lamb, chaplain of the department, were the words that came to mind when he thought of Cotten.
“You leave a legacy for all to follow.”
A number of former and current sheriffs and law enforcement officers from throughout central Texas were in attendance for the reception.
Sheriff Ralph Billings of Freestone County praised Cotten for his help and cooperation through the years.
“Whatever it was we needed, whatever assistance we asked for, he said ‘we’ll take care of it,’” Billings said.
Lt. Ken Authier of the Texas Department of Public Safety joked that according to state law, the DPS Commander could issue orders to Cotten.
Then, joking about Cotten’s lack of “Twitter and Facebook” skills, read a “telegram” from the DPS commander ordering him to enjoy his retirement.
Corsicana Police Chief Randy Bratton praised Cotten for reaching out to him when he arrived in Corsicana, and working together “better than we ever have.
“I’m going to miss our lunches at China One,” he said.
Cotten was given a framed copy of a poem written by Brad Haynie, who read the tome aloud. He and Cotten worked together as Corsicana Police officers early in his career.
Chief Deputy Mike Cox choked back emotion a few times as master of ceremonies, once telling the tale of Texas Rangers who used worked in pairs patrolling the border on horseback— each man relying on the other to “have his back.”
Turning to Cotten, he said “He will do. He will do.”
Among the many gifts presented to Cotten was a custom made barbecue grill crafted by employees of the sheriff’s department.
“We’re going to be expecting some ribs and brisket real soon,” Cox joked.
Cotten was appreciative of the turnout for the reception.
“It was kind of like jumping out of an airplane,” said the former paratrooper. “I didn’t know what to expect. I do appreciate everybody and the honors.”
The people, he said, will be what he will miss the most.
“Being able to come up and do what I’ve been doing over the years, if someone came in and needed to talk about a problem they had and trying to help them with it,” he said. “Just doing my job.”
He said after he leaves office on Dec. 31, he’ll spend his time tending to his cows, his pecan trees and his grandkids.
His wife, Cleita, outlined her vision of the next step in Cotten’s life.
“For all our married life, the country, the city, and the county has had him,” she said. “As of Dec. 31 at midnight, he’s mine! Direct your calls to Elmer!”
Bob Belcher may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Want to “Soundoff” on this story? Email: email@example.com