Curtis F. Cotton


Curt Cotton, 74, passed away peacefully, surrounded by his loving family, May 6, 2024, at the St. Cloud Hospital in St. Cloud. 

Curt was an inspiration to all who knew him as he courageously endured his battle against cancer with unrelenting strength and optimism.  

In celebration of his life, a gathering of family and friends will be held 4-8 p.m. Tuesday, May 28, at Daniel Funeral Home in St. Cloud. A private interment will take place at a later date.  

Curtis Freeman Cotton was born in Sioux City, Iowa, Jan. 16, 1950, to Vernon and Dorothy (Denny) Cotton. He spent every summer growing up on Big Watab Lake in Collegeville. His undergraduate schooling was at Gustavus Adolphus College, from 1968-1972, and he subsequently attended the University of Minnesota Dental School, graduating in 1976.  He married his college sweetheart, Karen Amundson, in 1977 and served in the U.S. Navy as a dentist at El Toro Marine Base in California, from 1976-1978. Drawn to Big Watab Lake, they moved back to Minnesota and began in private practice in St. Joseph, where he continued his dental career for 42 years.  

Raising his family of three children at the lake and now, with five grandchildren, his most proud triumph is claiming the grandkids are a fifth generation to grow up loving the lake he so cherished.  

Curt was a gregarious presence in every crowd and was driven by his selfless passion to help others and make a real difference in the world. Philanthropy and giving back to the communities he served were at the core of his values, and he lived his life generously volunteering endless hours to many charitable foundations. 

He was a life-long Lions member since 1980 in both the Avon Lions and St. Joseph Lions clubs, serving several times as president. Active for 44 years as a Lion, he was awarded the Helen Keller Award for his leadership with the Hearing Foundation and awarded the Melvin Jones Fellow Award for his humanitarian services. He volunteered additionally on multiple committees and councils in the 5M8 District. Curt was a founder of Rich-Spring Chapter of Ducks Unlimited, formed in 1985. He was a 42-year volunteer and is a Diamond Life Sponsor of Ducks Unlimited. Additionally, he was a 36-year board of director member for Stearns County Pheasants Forever and a Lifetime Sponsor of the organization. He was a lifetime member of both the American Dental Association and the Minnesota Dental Association, and was a member of the West Central District and St. Cloud Dental Society. Instrumental in founding the Mark Zimmer Foundation in St. Joseph, he served as president from 2011 to present, helping those in need in the community of St. Joseph. Dedicated to preserving the lake he loved, Curt served as president of the Big Watab Lake Association for over 40 years.  

On the many committees he served, at any bar, at the office, on the water at the lake, Curt lived life big, and he made every event more fun. He was generous, social, honest and compassionate in every aspect of his life. He adored his family, his patients and everyone he felt lucky to call a friend. 

He will be forever missed. 

Curt is survived by his loving wife of 47 years, Karen; son Brandon (Erin); daughter Kelsey (Matt) Milbert; and his five grandchildren who filled his heart with immeasurable joy: Margot, Elise and Karin Milbert and Charlie and Daisy Cotton.  

He was preceded in death by his parents, sister Kay Hughes, sister-in-law Kim Adamsheck and his dear son, Brady.  

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials for his many favorite charities.