Ronald "Cotton" Easter
Ronald "Cotton" Easter
Nickname: Cotton
Sport(s): Football
Year of Graduation: 1941-1949
Year Inducted: 2001

*Induction Speech by Randy Lambert*

 

RONALD “COTTON” EASTER 1941–1949 FOOTBALL

 

OUR FIRST INDUCTEE IS FROM THE DECADE OF THE 40’S – RONALD COTTON EASTER. WOULD MRS. BARBARA BLAIR EASTER, COTTON’S WIFE, PLEASE COME FORWARD?  COTTON EASTER BEGAN HIS MARYVILLE COLLEGE EXPERIENCE IN 1941.  SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE.  OUR STUDENTS WERE CHALLENGED EACH SCHOOL DAY IN THE CLASSROOM, AN HONORED STUDENT WAS ALLOWED TO RING THE ANDERSON TOWER BELL AFTER EVERY FIGHTING SCOT VICTORY ON THE GRIDIRON, AND THE MC FANS LOVED THEIR FOOTBALL.  AS A TALL, LEAN FRESHMAN, COTTON WAS THROWN TO THE WOLVES AS PRACTICE BAIT WHEN THE 41 FOOTBALL SEASON BEGAN.  NORMAN HOOKER AND FRED SHELFER, CO-CAPTAINS OF THE ’41 TEAM WERE READY TO PRESENT COLLEGE FOOTBALL TO THE YOUNG FRESHMAN THE WAY IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE PLAYED.  BUT COTTON HAD A FEW THINGS TO SHOW THEM AND IT DID NOT TAKE HIM LONG TO ESTABLISH HIMSELF AS A PREMIER LINEMAN.  NOW LINEMEN DO NOT GET THE HEADLINES OR THE IMPRESSIVE STATISTICS, BUT THEY ARE MAJOR CONTRIBUTORS TO A TEAM’S SUCCESS.  AND COTTON DID HIS SHARE OF THE WORK LEADING HIS TEAM TO AN 8 AND 1 RECORD IN 1941.  IN 1942, THE SCOTS FELL ON HARD TIMES DURING A REBUILDING YEAR AND ENDED THE SEASON WITH A 2 AND 6 RECORD.  COLLEGIATE ATHLETICS WERE PUT TO A HALT DURING WORLD WAR II.  COTTON JOINED THE NAVY AND PROUDLY SERVED HIS COUNTRY AS A PHYSICAL FITNESS INSTRUCTOR.  THIS ENABLED HIM TO STAY IN GREAT SHAPE OVER THE NEXT 4 YEARS.  TO MAINTAIN HIS COMPETITVE EDGE, HE PARTICIPATED IN RUGBY, HANDBALL, AND EVEN JAI ALAI.  COTTON RETURNED TO MC IN 1946 AND HE WAS READY TO PLAY FOOTBALL.  SEVERAL OF THE LOCAL SPORTS STARS HAD RETURNED FROM THE WAR AND ENROLLED AT THE COLLEGE.  THE BOYS WERE SEASONED VETERANS, WANTING TO GO TO WAR AT THE FRIENDLY CONFINES OF WILSON FIELD.  COTTON EASTER AND ANOTHER WAR VET AND FELLOW LINEMEN, MITCH MITCHELL WERE THEIR LEADERS.  COTTON AS GUARD AND MITCH AS TACKLE WOULD OPEN GAPING HOLES FOR THE LIKES OF LEON BERRONG, HERSHELL MERRIMAN, AND “GOATLEGS” CHARLIE PEPPER.  COACH LOMBE HONAKER WAS ENJOYING THE SUCCESS OF THE ’46 TEAM.  THEY FINISHED THE SEASON UNDEFEATED WITH A RECORD OF 9 AND 0 AND AN INVITATION TO THE TANGERINE BOWL.  THE MC FOOTBALLERS TRAVELED BY TRAIN TO ORLANDO, FLORIDA TO PLAY CATAWBA.  THE FIGHTING SCOTS FOUGHT A GOOD FIGHT BUT LOST TO A VERY TALENTED CATAWBA TEAM, 35–7.  IN 1947, CAPTAIN COTTON EASTER LED HIS TEAM TO A 7-1-1 SEASON.  OVER THIS TWO-YEAR PERIOD, COTTON AND HIS BOYS PUT TOGETHER AN UNPRECEDENTED RECORD OF 16 WINS AND TWO LOSSES AND ONE TIE.  THEY DEFEATED THE LIKES OF MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE, EAST TENNESSEE STATE, CENTRE, SEWANEE, AND EMORY AND HENRY. 

FOR HIS OUTSTANDING PLAY FROM THE GUARD POSITION, COTTON WAS SELECTED IN BACK-TO-BACK YEARS AS AN ASSOCIATED PRESS LITTLE ALL-AMERICAN.  UPON GRADUATION IN 1948, COTTON BEGAN HIS LIFE AS A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESSMAN AND DEVOTED HUSBAND AND FATHER.  AFTER BRIEF STINTS WITH THE TENNESSEE STATE HEALTH DEPARTMENT AND A PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANY, COTTON STARTED A FORD DEALERSHIP IN LENOIR CITY.  DURING THIS TIME, HE WAS VERY ACTIVE IN HIS CHURCH AND VARIOUS CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS.  AT CHURCH, HE WAS CHAIRMAN OF THE OFFICIAL BOARD AND CHURCH SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT.  IN THE COMMUNITY OF LENOIR CITY, HE WAS PRESIDENT OF THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, DIRECTOR OF FIRST NATIONAL BANK OF LOUDON COUNTY.  HE WAS A JAYCEE AND A SHRINER.  IF THAT WAS NOT ENOUGH, COTTON WAS A CHARTER MEMBER OF THE EXCEPTIONAL CITIZENS ASSOCIATION AND FOUNDED A DAY SCHOOL FOR PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY HANDICAPPED ADULTS.  IN 1975, COTTON GAVE HIS LIFE WHILE RESCUING HIS THREE SONS AND THREE YOUNG GIRLS OFF THE FLORIDA COAST.  THE CHILDREN WERE CAUGHT IN A RIP TIDE AND COTTON USED ALL OF HIS ENERGY IN MAKING SURE EACH CHILD MADE IT SAFELY TO SHORE.  IN THE WORDS OF MC SPORTS HISTORIAN, KEN KRIBBS, “TO SUM UP THE LIFE OF RONALD “COTTON” EASTER, ONE WORD WILL SUFFICE – “HUMANITARIAN”.  MRS. EASTER, MARYVILLE COLLEGE IS VERY PROUD TO HAVE AS AN ALUMNUS AND OUR FIRST INDUCTEE OF THIS 2001 CLASS –RONALD COTTON EASTER.