In Loving Memory

Barbara Heater Cotton

July 3, 1938 - May 31, 2020


Barbara Heater Cotton, age 81 of Daphne, AL, passed away at home surrounded by her loving family on Sunday, May 31, 2020.

Barbara graduated from Winamac High School and attended Ball State University before joining the United States Air Force, becoming a drill instructor at Lackland AFB. After serving as a military wife and traveling with her family, she attended Okaloosa Walton Junior College, graduating from the University of West Florida. She earned her Master’s in Education and her AA in administration from the University of South Alabama, as well as administrative certification. She was a member and past president of the Chi Chapter of Alpha Delta Kappa Educators’ Sorority, along with many other educational organizations. While at Fairhope High School she created a student organization “Students Action for Education” (SAFE) which created a genuine interest with future teachers.

Mrs. Cotton was well known in the Baldwin County School System, having served as the first learning disabilities teacher in 1973. She taught at Fairhope Elementary School, Fairhope High School, Bay Minette Elementary School, before moving into administration, where she served as Assistant Principal at Bay Minette Middle School, before being named Principal at Fairhope Middle School. She was very honored to be named the Principal at the brand-new J. Larry Newton School in 1998.

Barbara never met a stranger, loved and encouraged students of all ages, as well as her faculty and staff. She was an integral part of establishing Liberty Church in Fairhope years ago, even holding the first services at their family home. She had a gift for hospitality and a smile that truly brightened everyone’s heart. “PRAISE THE LORD!” was her favorite phrase!

Upon Barbara’s retirement, she and Woody traveled up the east coast, visiting almost every lighthouse. She so enjoyed cooking large meals each Thursday for her extended family, spending time with her grandchildren, painting beautiful artwork, cheering for the Auburn Tigers, as well as taking trips with their dear friends, Jean and Bobby Davis.

She was preceded in death by her children, Tom Leach and Rosie Merold; parents, Joe and Rosemary Heater of Winamac, Indiana; brother, Dick Heater of Fayetteville, Arkansas; sister, Carolyn O’Donnell of Fayetteville, Arkansas.

She is survived by her husband, James “Woody” Cotton. Jr.; son, Joey Cotton of Houston, Texas; daughter, Viki Leach (McGinty) Woerner of Vicksburg, Mississippi; daughter-in-law, Barbie Leach of Auburn, Alabama, nine grandchildren, Patrick McGinty, Chelsea (Alex) Bagley, Blake, Audrey, Hannah, Greg Leach, Brooke (Jonathan) Ledbetter, Michaela (Evan) Miller and Savannah Merold; four great-grandchildren, Henry David Bagley, Remington Clayton Littleton, Laura and John Ledbetter; and beloved brother, Vic (Judy) Heater of Winamac, Indiana.

There will be a Celebration of Life Service at Loxley Church, 5220 N. Hickory Street, Loxley, AL, on Saturday, June 6, 2020 at 2:00 p.m., with a time of visitation an hour before the service.  The service will be live streamed at

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Missions fund at Loxley Church, 5220 N Hickory St, Loxley, AL 36551. Please honor Barbara’s memory by continuing her legacy of encouraging young people to succeed.

Expressions of condolence for the family may be made at Hughes Funeral Home is handling service arrangements for the family.


  1. Ashley Milner

    We will miss Nana! She will forever remain a part of our heart.

  2. Eddie Matchett

    Vicki, I am so very sorry for your loss. Your mom’s smile and the twinkle in her eyes are memories that will always be with me. With Tommy and Rosie, your mom’s memory will always be a blessing to me.

  3. Mary Washam

    Barbara, My beloved Principal and dear friend. You have left a crack in my heart, but a smile on my face knowing you are with our dear lord. The children and people that have known Barbara, and her love of education have been blessed. You will be dearly missed!! Love and prayers to family and friends!

  4. Brenda Saltz

    Barbara Cotton was an encourager, a great listener, and had so much energy. I really enjoyed working with her.

  5. Connie Jo Williams

    Godspeed Barbara! Connie Jo Williams

  6. Nancy and John Falck

    So sorry to hear of her death. She was a bright light to the faculty and a friend to students.

  7. Jennifer Reed

    My deepest condolences to her family, Mrs. Cotton was the sweetest lady. She will be missed dearly.

  8. Karen Davis

    We have lost a fine woman. God recieve and rejoice in her arrival to your kingdom..

  9. Theresa McGonagle

    Vicki, you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. I’m sure my husband, Joseph, who has been gone for eight years, was there to welcome your mother. He loved working with her over the years. She was a special lady!

  10. Adeva

    As the Lord welcomes Nana to her perfect, peaceful, heavenly home, may he comfort all her family and friends. She will be deeply missed.

  11. Frances Parks

    Viki, Your mother will be greatly missed by many. She made a lasting impression on everyone she met. Our lives have been made better just by knowing her. I’ll always remember the many times she helped me when I first started teaching. God be with you and your family in this most difficult time.

  12. Jacob,SherylLynne and Autumn Satenberg

    Heaven has been blessed with one very special, lovely treasure! Our thoughts and prayers are with y’all.

  13. Jo Anne Keller

    Barbara’s Family,
    We met in graduate school at USA. She became my mentor, my role model, and my friend. I was truly honored to become her first counselor at J Larry Newton School. Barbara and I went up in a hot air balloon as a reading incentive. She was the most Christian person I know. She is with God now Still smiling.

  14. Betty Thomas

    May God grant your family the peace of His presence during this difficult time.

  15. Amy Csakvary

    Such a beautiful, happy and kind woman. Rest In Peace. Deepest sympathy to the entire family.

  16. Erika Yelding Ford

    With Deepest Sympathy- Mrs. Barbara Cotton was such a kind, sweet and gentle soul. She touched the lives of so many people. Mrs. Cotton undoubtedly changed my life by giving me my first teaching job in which I will be forever grateful. May peace and blessings be upon your family during this time. May God’s love strengthen you.
    Love Always, Erika Yelding Ford

  17. Lynn smith

    Viki, you all are in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. Heaven sure gained an angel. Nana will be missed. Let us know if you need anything.

  18. Faron Hollinger

    What a wonderful lady and a caring and committed professional. Her legacy will long be remembered, especially by the numerous lives that she touched, including my own. Deepest condolences to Barbara’s family.

  19. Carolyn Patterson

    Many of us began our journey with Barbara when Newton School opened. She was such a joyful person with very positive advice. My sympathy goes to Woody and her family.

  20. Bronwyn Puckett

    Mrs. Barbara was a treasure and a blessing to all who knew her. In all of my adult life I have never known her to be anything other that gracious, loving and compassionate to everyone who was blessed enough to come into her path. She was vivacious and a gifted educator and administrator. All of her students and parents adored her because they knew she cared. She was a wonderful wife, mother, grandmother and a friend to all but most of all she loved Jesus! She lived her life to reflect him in all she did. She will truly be missed but she will no longer be in any pain and she is with her Heavenly Father and all her friends and loved ones that have gone before her. I feel truly blessed to have known her.


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