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The Era remembers Publisher Tony Cotten

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By Jacquelyn Stoess Hack

Give us a moment to gather our thoughts – we've had a death in the family.

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Publisher Tony Cotten, the athlete who raced his bicycle through our office, the mentor who instilled confidence in us and the coach who challenged us to do our best, died today (Thursday) at his home in La Grange.

Tony left his Indiana roots in December 2010 to lead The Oldham Era.

He told us that he often wondered why God sent "this Hoosier" to the Bluegrass, but we saw from the start that his background as a teacher, coach and entrepreneur would serve us well.

It was a critical time for our newspaper. As he focused on building camaraderie at The Oldham Era, Tony also reached out to many local businesses and organizations that had been overlooked by The Era in recent years.

La Grange resident Jim Zimmerman said for some unknown reason, he and Tony had a great chemistry from the moment they met. 

"Tony was a low-key individual who was blessed with a lot of common sense and sharp critical thinking skills," Zimmerman said.

Tony found that Karen's Book Barn in La Grange was his ideal office, and conducted many job interviews there as he worked to strengthen his team at The Era.

That summer he hired Brad Stephens, a Western Kentucky University student, to work as our sports intern. When Stephens couldn't find an affordable short-term lease, Tony and his wife, Tina, gave him a bedroom for the summer.

In December 2011, to mark his first year at The Era, Tony presented the staff with a challenge for 2012: Be remarkable. He had been inspired by the Seth Godin book, "Purple Cow," about transforming business with strong relationships.

Little did we know that in our quest to be remarkable, we'd see Tony compete in a series of eight urban extreme bike races, including one race that brought cyclists through the front door of The Oldham Era and pedaling through hallways with tires screeching on the tile before bouncing down the back steps.

Purple became The Era's signature color, and we have purple polo shirts to prove it.

We should have known that when Tony bought us nice purple polos with The Era's new logo that we'd be wearing them non-stop while sponsoring local events, hosting Minute-to-Win-It games and occasionally serving as the set-up and clean-up crew for events that Tony felt we could help catapult to success. 

A year ago this week, Tony chaired the Oldham County Relay for Life, and had positioned The Oldham Era as a title sponsor of numerous local events throughout the year.

During Tony's last hours, our staff gathered with Tina on the porch outside his home to show our support.

For Tony, being remarkable meant being present. We will always be grateful for his leadership at The Oldham Era.

Survivors include his wife, Tina, and the brood of children and grandchildren Tony affectionately called The Cotten Clan.

Cards may be sent to Tina Cotten and family c/o The Oldham Era, P.O. Box 5, La Grange, Ky. 40031.

Funeral arrangements: www.oldhamera.com/content/funeral-arrangements-tony-cotten