By Nicole Hamilton
The Cincinnati Enquirer
When he was a child, John C. Cottingham's mother sent him to drama school so he could become an effective speaker.
Mr. Cottingham's wife of sixty-four years, Jeanne Sadler Cottingham, said this kind of attentive upbringing - among other things - contributed to the outgoing personality he exuded in adulthood.
"He ran things. He was an aggressive leader. He stood 6 feet, 4 inches tall and was just loads of fun, and extremely artistic," said Mrs. Cottingham, who canceled a date with someone else to go out with her future husband.
Mr. Cottingham, a retired insurance executive and general agent for Penn Mutual Life Insurance Agency, died Wednesday morning at his Sycamore Township home after a long illness. He was 87.
Raised in North Avondale, Mr. Cottingham attended Ursuline Academy and Xavier High School before continuing his education at the University of Notre Dame, where he earned a bachelor's degree in business administration.
A veteran of the Invasion of Normandy, he was first sergeant of the 356th Pioneer Mustang P-51 Squadron, 354th Fighter Group, which holds the record of one thousand planes shot down in the European Theater Operation.
Mr. Cottingham retired around 1990 from the insurance business, to pursue his passion for travel.
He was also a longtime member and past president of the University of Notre Dame Club of Greater Cincinnati, once participating in a major fundraising event that brought his former classmate - then-Notre Dame president, Father Theodore M. Hesburgh (now president emeritus) - to Cincinnati, where he introduced him to top executives at someCincinnati companies.
Besides his wife, other survivors include a son, Michael of Jackson Hole, Wyo.; a daughter, Shari Cottingham of Northern Kentucky; and two grandchildren.
Visitation will be 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. today at Gilligan Funeral Home, 8225 Montgomery Road, Kenwood.
Mass of Christian burial will be 1 p.m. today at St. Gertrude Church, 7630 Shawnee Run Road, Madeira.
Burial will be in Old St. Joseph Cemetery, Price Hill.
Memorials may be made to Notre Dame Scholarship Fund, 1100 Grace Hall, Notre Dame, IN, 46556-5612.
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