"We tried to figure out what a cop looks like," said his wife, Carol Kirkland Cottman. "We never thought about it before."
Vernon Lamont Cottman, a Chester city police officer from 1975 to 1980, and SEPTA transit officer from 1981 to 1996, a Navy veteran and devoted family man, died of cancer on his 66th birthday, March 21. He was a lifelong resident of Chester.
Vernon was born in Chester to Vernon H. and Marian Cottman. He graduated from Chester High School in 1967. The draft was still in effect, and he was eligible. So he enlisted in the Navy.
He served on the minesweeper USS Valor, based at Charleston, S.C.
After the Navy, Vernon went to work for the city of Chester at different jobs until a position opened on the police force. He served until extensive layoffs in a city cost-cutting move forced him out in 1980.
He then went into training for the SEPTA transit police. His wife recalled that the only real excitement he had was when someone jumped in front of an El train and he had to help with the cleanup.
When he retired in 1996, Vernon discovered that he couldn't sit still. He went to work for U.S. Security guarding the ConocoPhillips plant in Trainer.
"When he left there in 2010, he said, 'OK, that's it,' " his wife said.
Vernon played semipro football in his youth. He also enjoyed dancing. "He was very light on his feet," his wife said.
He also played the trombone.
"He was a big, burly, huggable guy," his wife said. "Very loving and considerate."
Retirement gave Vernon time to be with his family, especially his three beloved grandchildren. He was proud of his sons, Gordon, a Pennsylvania state trooper, and Kyle, a graphic designer.
He loved his family and enjoyed frequent family get-togethers. "Any event was an excuse for a reunion," she said.
He also is survived by a brother, Wilson "Bro" Cottman, and two sisters, Dawne "Judy" Lopes and Marian "Darlene" Cottman.
Services: 9:30 a.m. tomorrow at Community Baptist Church, 325 W. 7th St., Chester. Friends may call at 6 this evening and 8 a.m. tomorrow at the church. Burial will be in Lawn Croft Cemetery, Linwood.