March 8, 1948 – May 3, 2022
Jeffrey Lenard Cottrell, 74, passed away on Tuesday, May 3, 2022 at his home in Douglas, Wyoming with his loving wife nearby.
Jeff Cottrell was born Monday, March 8, 1948 in Moscow, Idaho. His father (first name unknown) was working on the Grand Coulee Dam so they moved to Spokane, Washington. His mother (first name unknown) passed away when he was three years old. His father remarried when Jeff was five. His father passed away when Jeff was eight years old. Jeff was then raised by his step-mother, Thelma Cottrell, until he graduated from Shadle High School in Spokane. Jeff had one brother, Ray, who was eight years older than him. They were very close until Ray moved away from home.
Jeff attended Clark College in Vancouver, Washington for four semesters to obtain an engineering degree. He joined the United States Naval Reserve in 1965. He served three years active duty with two of those years in Vietnam, and three years inactive duty. His rank was Engineman 2nd Class (E6) and he received two Presidential Unit Citations.
Jeff was married in 1966 and was blessed with a daughter in 1967. He was divorced and moved to Wyoming in 1971 where he was introduced to the Campbell County oil fields and quickly learned the operation and techniques of the drilling industry. Jeff’s knowledge of Detroit Diesel and Caterpillar engines came from his experiences in the military where he worked on the engines on the boats in Vietnam. He acquired extremely high mechanical aptitude test scores and he was among the top 5% of the nation in two areas, one of which was engine rebuilding and the other was repair of mistakes or deletions made on new trucks.
Jeff married Sonia Rae (Yates) Walker from Converse County in 1975 while she was teaching 45 miles north of Douglas, Wyoming at the Riehle School. He then moved there with her and drove back and forth to work at Rogers’ Ford as a truck mechanic. He spent many days driving in Blizzards just to get home late for supper.
After a three-year stint at Bear Creek Uranium, Jeff went back to working in the oil field industry. He worked for Westburn Oil Company for three years working in North Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and Utah. After they shut down, he was called to work on the directional drilling rigs in Alaska. He worked on the North Slope (Prudow Bay) from 1985 until 1990. At that time, he hurt his back and had to redo his employment options.
Jeff’s next move was to set up a painting shop in his back yard where he had had a shop built in 1986. He painted company signs for businesses in Douglas for the next six years until the pain in his hands and arms didn’t allow him to continue. One of his signs still seen is the Douglas Grocery Sign on the high pole in front of the store. He was most proud of that one.
Jeff was an inventor and liked to build things from scratch with iron and sometimes wood. He one time took up a hobby of lead glass work. He put together a beautiful glasswork of morning glories, his favorite flower, still seen as you go into the family home on Bandera Avenue. In the 1980’s Jeff had a rabbit named Bumby that followed him around the yard and went into the shop to sleep while he was working on one of his projects. Jeff also liked cats. He would tell Sonia” We don’t need another cat,” and the next thing you’d see is the cat sleeping with him, especially after he was disabled from a stroke in 2010. After that happened Jeff became a stay-at- home grandpa and rarely went out of the house. His health declined as the years went by.
He was preceded in death by his mother, father, and brother, Ray and several aunts and uncles all of Washington State.
He is survived by his wife, Sonia; daughter, Tari Lyn Cottrell, of Vancouver; step-daughters, Tami Gentry of Glendo, Wyoming, Paula Thomas of Port Orchard, Washington, and Teri Lynn Walker of Casper, Wyoming; ex-son-in-law, David Gentry of Alaska; and grandchildren, Will (Diane) Gentry of Seward, Alaska, Sara Marie Gentry of Thermopolis, Wyoming, Jesse Walker of Port Orchard and Ray Thomas of Port Orchard, Andrew Mehus of Douglas, and Michael Walker of Casper.
A military service will be held Friday, May 13, 2022 at 11:00 AM at the Oregon Trail State Veterans Cemetery, 80 Veterans Road, Evansville, Wyoming with honors accorded by Natrona County United Veterans Council and United State Navy Funeral Honors.
In lieu of flowers, memorials to Douglas Senior Citizens Center, PO Box 192, Douglas, Wyoming 82633 would be appreciated by the family.
The Gorman Funeral Homes – Converse Chapel of Douglas, Wyoming is in charge of the arrangements.
Condolences may be sent to the family at www.gormanfh.com.