Judge Edward Benjamin Cottingham, 92, passed away peacefully at his home in Still Hopes Retirement Community in West Columbia on March 24, 2021. Born June 27, 1928, in Bennettsville, SC, he was the son of the late Vance Calhoun Cottingham and Margaret Waggoman Cottingham.
He was a graduate of Bennettsville High School. In 1946, he enlisted in the United States Navy, where he served for two years aboard the Aircraft Carrier USS LEYTE CV 32 in the European Middle Eastern Mediterranean Theater of Operations.
After an honorable discharge from the Navy in April 1948, he attended the University of Virginia and later transferred to the University of South Carolina, where he received a law degree in 1953. He was named to the USC Debate Team Hall of Fame. While at Carolina, he joined the Air Force ROTC and received a commission as Second Lieutenant in 1951.
Upon graduation from law school, he returned to Bennettsville and entered the law practice of the late Russell Miller. In 1954, he and the late William Goldberg formed the law firm of Goldberg and Cottingham, which later became Goldberg, Cottingham, Easterling, and Napier. He was a member of the local, state and national bar associations. He spent 32 years as an attorney in Bennettsville.
Cottingham was engaged in numerous community affairs. He served as chairman of the Marlboro County Development Board and was instrumental in industrial development. He was chairman of both the Bennettsville Great Town Committee and the Marlboro Civic Center Restoration. He was a Trustee of the Bennettsville School Board and a Rotary Club member. He was a lifetime member of First United Methodist Church.
On a state level, Cottingham was elected to the S.C. House of Representatives, serving from 1954-58 as the youngest member. He served again from 1966-1972, when he was elected to the SC Highway Commission. During this four-year period, he was vice chairman and chairman. Cottingham Boulevard in Bennettsville was named in his honor in recognition for service. In 1960, he became a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of South Carolina. He also served as a member of the S.C. Chamber of Commerce.
In 1984, Cottingham was elected Resident Judge of the Fourth Judicial Circuit and served until his retirement in 2000. He continued in the capacity of Active Retired Circuit Judge until 2014. During his tenure, he was Vice President and President of the Circuit Judges Association, served on the Circuit Judges’ Advisory Committee, and the Judicial Standards Committee. He is a graduate of the National Judicial College (1984) and served as Faculty Advisor in 1993.
As a judge, Cottingham was respected by court personnel throughout the state. The Myrtle Beach Sun News referred to him as the "Lion of the Court", and he earned praise for his wisdom, humor, and commonsense approach to issues. In the courtroom, he was admired for his courteous treatment of attorneys, court reporters and staff, and his consideration of the juries' time. He completed 30 years on the bench, mentoring many young judges and lawyers. He had high regard for his judiciary colleagues and cherished those relationships both personally and professionally.
A lifelong sports and loyal Gamecock fan, he counted among his best memories the many tailgates and events he attended with friends and family. A favorite pastime was discussing the trials and tribulations of his beloved Gamecocks. His eternal optimism was contagious.
Judge Cottingham was an avid reader, gifted storyteller, history buff, animal lover, and fan of western movies. He enjoyed meeting people, was interested in others, and in learning new things. Although failing eyesight made it difficult to master the latest technology and use of gadgets, he never gave up, routinely enlisting the aid of family, friends, strangers, anyone really, until he had succeeded. Some would fondly say his superpower was the unique ability to rally others to his cause. While he acknowledged he wasn't always patient with the process, he sincerely appreciated the kindness of others.
Affectionately known as "Papa" to six grandchildren, he found great joy in a special relationship with each one and was proud of individual accomplishments. Judge Cottingham and his wife, Iris, traveled extensively throughout their lives, and he encouraged them to do the same. He was delighted they shared his passion, loved to hear their stories, and to reminisce about personal experiences. He is beloved by his grandchildren and will be remembered for his inspiration and generosity.
When faced with health challenges in later years, Judge Cottingham adapted with remarkable perseverance, resilience, and courage. A positive attitude and keen sense of humor served him well. He continued to live each day to the fullest with faith, contentment, and without complaint. His indomitable spirit was a blessing to all.
Judge Cottingham was predeceased by his beloved wife of 55 years, Iris Evans Cottingham. He is survived by daughter Jean Cottingham Clifton (Paul) of Lexington and son Edward Benjamin Cottingham Jr (Lisa) of Mount Pleasant; grandchildren: Stephen Benjamin Clifton (Jennifer), Evan Cottingham Powers (Cameron), Brett Cottingham Clifton, Caroline Cottingham Buse (Matt), Haley Cottingham and Edward Benjamin Cottingham III : great- granddaughter Charlotte Evans Clifton, and sister, June Cottingham Hucks of Greenville. He was predeceased by a brother, Vance Calhoun Cottingham Jr.
The family expresses heartfelt gratitude to Linda McCall, Still Hopes Retirement Community, Dr. Tripp Jones, Dr. March Seabrook, and Dr. William Croswell.
Funeral services will be held on Tuesday, March 30, 2021 at 2:00 at First United Methodist Church in Bennettsville, SC. The family will receive visitors after the service. A private burial will be held at Sunset Memorial Park. The Reverend John Culp will officiate.
Memorials may be made to First United Methodist Church, PO Box 456, Bennettsville, SC 29512 or Still Hopes Residents Assistance Fund, One Still Hopes Drive, West Columbia, SC 29169.
Burroughs Funeral Home of Bennettsville is honored to assist the family of Judge Cottingham.
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