Cover photo for Gary Cotner's Obituary
Gary Cotner Profile Photo
1939 Gary 2021

Gary Cotner

October 8, 1939 — August 4, 2021

Gary Martin Cotner, 81 of Collinsville, Oklahoma left his earthy existence on August 4, 2021 after a lengthy illness. He was born on October 8, 1939 in St. Louis, Missouri to Marvin Martin Cotner and Erma Regina (Barbarick) Cotner.

From St. Louis, his family made moves to Belle, Salem, Mountain Grove, and Cuba, Missouri. In 1953 when Gary started high school, the family moved to Lovington, New Mexico where he attended Lovington High School his freshmen year. In 1954, the family moved to Hobbs, New Mexico where he attended Hobbs High School his sophomore year. Then it was a move to Artesia, New Mexico where he attended Artesia High School for his junior and senior years and was graduated in 1957.

After graduation, Gary joined the United States Army Reserve where he served for six years. He did his basic training at Fort Chaffee in Arkansas.

Gary was a boy/man of many jobs and interests. He always had a job. As a boy he was a pinsetter at a bowling alley in Cuba, Missouri. Later in his young life he was a paperboy. Always interested in cars, he found employment as a mechanic at Guy Chevrolet in Artesia, New Mexico while still in high school.

He moved to Salem, Missouri in 1959 or 1960 and lived with his grandmother, Susie Cotner. While living there he was first employed as an automobile mechanic at the Ford dealership in Rolla before taking a job at Pine’s Chevrolet in Salem. While in Salem he joined the Jaycees and a bowling league. He moved to St. Louis in 1963 and worked for Bill James Chevrolet. He then moved to Wichita, Kansas in 1966 and worked at Scholfield Pontiac.

While living in Wichita, he married Bellva Pinkerton. In 1968, their daughter, Michelle Rae was born. The marriage ended in divorce.

He moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma around 1971 and worked for Ernie Miller Pontiac. There he also had jobs working for Sun Auto Diagnostic and Radio Shack. Finally, he found his last and most rewarding job at FlightSafety International in Broken Arrow. He got to travel the world and help install flight simulators in airplanes for private business and commercial aircraft as well as for the government and the military. He kept that job until his retirement.

Gary’s interests were many and varied. He loved his 57’s and loved taking them to classic car shows. When his best friend, Gary Green, started building his first plane, Gary became

enamored with flying. He bought a Thorp T-18, and he became very proficient in it. Besides being an expert auto mechanic, he became an expert airplane mechanic. He became a member of the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association). He often flew his T-18 to Oshkosh, Wisconsin to attend the EAA Annual Air Show. He gave young people their first airplane ride through the Young Eagles Program - When health issues forced him to give up flying, he concentrated on collecting cars and showing off his ’57s. In about 1980, Gary moved to Collinsville, Oklahoma and lived his remaining years there next to Sand Ridge Air Park and had a large hangar in which to store his plane, motorcycle, cars, and tools.

Another interest of Gary’s was motorcycles. He rode his 1998 Harley bike to Sturgis several times. Even though it’s dusty now it’s a beauty.

Gary became a 32nd degree Mason. He went through the chairs and became Master of his lodge and ritual proficiency instructor.

Preceding him in death were his parents. He is survived by his daughter Michelle Barksdale Stevens and husband Eric of Statesville, North Carolina, grandsons Shannon Stevens of Statesville and Timothy Stafford of Charleston, South Carolina, his sisters Barbara Price of Sedalia, Colorado, Nancy Cotner of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Betty Ann Whitten and husband David of Midland, Texas, niece Sheila Pastore of Castle Rock, Colorado and nephew Levi Stone of Midland, Texas. He is also survived by his numerous Cotner and Barbarick cousins as well as his many friends in Collinsville.

A celebration of his life and scattering of his ashes will be held some time in September. At that time his best friend, Gary Green, will fly over the Sand Ridge runway and spread the ashes. Reynolds & AdamsCrest Cremation and Funeral Services is serving the family.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Gary Cotner, please visit our flower store.


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