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Perry Cotham, preacher for more than 80 years, dies at age 101 (Updated)

Perry B. Cotham, a gospel preacher for more than 80 years, died Tuesday, Feb. 26, at the Texas residential care home where he had lived since 2011.
He had celebrated his 101st birthday on Jan. 5, said Terri L. Green, owner of Grand Prairie, Texas-based PBH Residential Care Homes.

Perry B. Cotham, seated, celebrates his 101st birthday in January. (Photo provided by PBH Residential Care Homes)

Cotham was “highly esteemed” by fellow residents of the Keith Heights retirement home, where he had lived since November 2011 and was a charter resident, Green told The Christian Chronicle.
“He was affectionately known as ‘poppa’ by the staff,” Green said. “He was unanimously appointed the patriarch of the group and assumed his role as spiritual leader by saying ‘grace’ at every meal. Until recently, when his health declined, he occupied his time by daily reading his Bible and other doctrinal and spiritual books and wrote letters to family, friends and fellow laborers in the Lord’s work around the world.”
On his Facebook page, Robert Prater, minister for the Central Church of Christ in Shawnee, Okla., reflected on Cotham’s death:

Churches of Christ lost an enduring “legend” among preachers yesterday (Tuesday)  … Brother Cotham preached at here Central from 1934-1940 and came back a number of times for meetings and speical occasions including our Centennial back in 2007 where he preached during Bible class hour powerfully and flawlessly at age 95!! He preached in many gospel meetings, did mission work in India, Malaysia, and Thailand and of course wrote a number of gospel tracts and literature. What a reminder to us that it is not our age, but our willingness to keep on going however long we have serving the Lord with all of our might! May God give us that kind of spirit and more Christians!

Andy Brewer, minister for the Phillips Street Church of Christ in Dyersburg, Tenn., blogged last year about Cotham’s status as “standard-bearer for longevity in ministry among churches of Christ.”
His son  Perry C. Cotham provided the following obit:

Perry Boyd Cotham, gospel preacher, departed this life on February 26, 2013, in Grand Prairie, Texas, at the age of 101. He was born the eldest son of Ben B. and Nannie Boyd Cotham of Murray, Kentucky, on January 5, 1912. He was baptized at an early age, finished high school in three years, and soon began preaching in 1929. He enrolled in Freed-Hardeman College (then a junior college) in September, 1929, and graduated in June, 1931.  Following this and preaching in and around Murray, he attended Murray State University, and graduated with a B.A. degree in June, 1934.  He has been preaching since 1929.
After visiting relatives in Oklahoma in the summer of 1934, he moved to Shawnee to do full time work there with the growing church. While there he married Teresa Naomi Overby, daughter of a gospel preacher named Coleman Overby in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Later he moved to Oklahoma City, then to Wewoka, and later to Duncan. All of these cities are in Oklahoma. He moved to Paris, Texas, and then preached for the Lindsley Avenue church in Nashville, Tennessee. Later he moved to Grand Prairie, Texas, to work with the church to help sell church bonds and erect the Turnpike Church of Christ new building. Later he moved to the 14 th and Main Church of Christ in Big Spring, Texas, where he served for nearly ten years.  While there he made two mission trips overseas to Brazil and South Africa.
On June 1, 1972, realizing the need of preaching the gospel to the whole world, he resigned work in Big Spring, moved back to Grand Prairie and assisted by Skillman Avenue church in Dallas and interested brethren, began to do world-wide evangelistic work. Perry has always wanted to be a gospel preacher, and this he has done the greater part of his life—over 80 years.  Having delivered a few sermons as guest speaker after turning 100 years of age, he clearly would be among the oldest preachers, if not the oldest, in the history of the Church of Christ.  He has preached in all the fifty states of America and in all inhabited continents of the world, being in over 75 nations.  He has also bought and distributed many thousand of Bibles for various parts of the world. He has written and distributed millions of copies of his gospel tracts. Perry has made twelve trips to India, with many hundreds being baptized, and fifteen or more trips to Singapore and Thailand. He provided, with the help of many good friends, many hundreds of Bibles. He has always been grateful for their help.
His wife departed this life in January, 1998. He is survived by two sons, Perry Coleman Cotham and wife, Glenda, of Brentwood, Tennessee, and Harry Don Cotham of Houston, Texas, and one daughter, Nan Elizabeth Cotham Macleod and husband, Edward, of Arlington, Texas. He was preceded in death by two younger brothers, Preston (in 1998) and Harry (in 2008). There are also five grandchildren, nine great grandchildren, many nieces and nephews, and a great host of dear friends in all parts of the world.

Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 1, at Cross Point Church of Christ in Grand Prairie. Visitation will be 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 28, at Bean Massey Burge on Beltline Road.

  • Feedback
    Perry was 101, and worshiped with CrossPoint church of Christ in Grand Prairie, TX. He was known to outsing our praise team, and we loved him for that.
    Steve Beall
    February, 27 2013

    What a blessing!! 100 years!! He touched many lives and I love to hear he loved to sing and I see he could outsing the praise team. THAT IS CHRISTIANTY BEING LIVED AND LOVED THROUGH ALL AVENUES!!!. pRYAERS FOR HIS FAMILY AND JUST KNOW YOU WILL MEET AGAIN IN HEAVEN!!!!!
    February, 27 2013

    Perry B. Cotham influenced millions with his teaching and with his tracks here in India. How loved to teach and eat. He has been working with my father(Joshua Gootam) from past 50 years. He is the pillar and was one of the base for Church here in India. From my Childhood he used to come and go to different villages with my father. We used to have gospel meeting for a week here in Kakinada and he used to speak all day (for 8 hrs). One thing we admire about our Grandpa was he could quote Bible like any other. He is a walking bible. Whenever he preacher he never looked at his bible but quoted them. He knows them all. One of the best God could send in this modern times. He is a legend to us here in India for all of us. Thank you for teaching many about Jesus.
    Ricky Gootam
    February, 27 2013

    I met Brother Perry at the Lorain, Ohio Church of Christ Lectures. What a Great Friend he was. His books are a treasure to have. Look forward to seeing him again in the Glory Land.
    Thinking Love, Darlene McKinley Weirton Heights Church of Christ Weirton, WV.
    Darlene McKinley
    February, 27 2013

    Vine and the branches… God bless his soul!
    Alan Kaye
    February, 28 2013

    Brother Cotham came to Lancaster, New Hampshire in 1983 and preached for us and stayed in our home. His gentle, down to earth faith and love and presentation of the gospel were a great encouragement to us.
    I recall several of his bits of wit and wisdom as we drove around together doing evangelistic Bible studies together. My wife and I had been working with several families in hopes of developing leaders for the church. I privately shared my disappointment over one man in particular and Brother Perry chuckled, “I guess you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.” He then helped turn the conversation into a more positive direction. I’m thankful to have had the honor of being together with him.
    Greg Nance
    February, 28 2013

    What a great life to celebrate! Perry was the preacher my Mother, Claudean McMahan Sexson, babysat for when she was a teenager. Then he married my Mother and Father, Dale Sexson when they were young. Perry will be missed for the wonderful lessons he taught from the Bible. He held a meeting here at the Oakey Blvd. Church of Christ in 2003, and my Mom said just now, “Where does the time go?” She is 87 now and still encouraging us. Perry and his teaching will be missed around the world.
    Nancy Sexson Kurtik
    February, 28 2013

    Brother Perry Cotham was a great man. He was a strong influence for good on behalf of the Sao Paulo Mission Team that went to Brazil in 1961. We are grateful for his life and thankful for the reward he can now enjoy to the fullest. His work lives on.
    Howard W. Norton
    February, 28 2013

    Perry Cotham was the first preacher in my memory having preached for the Lamar Avenue Church of Christ in Paris Texas in the late 40’s. He was a great man and much admired.
    Gerald Hurley
    Plano Texas
    Gerald Hurley
    February, 28 2013

    Perry , has touch many lives and also bring many to Christ and His knowledge.
    I read many of his tracts in Nigeria not even knowing he was still alive.
    He will continue to preach to many through his tract ministry even after his death.
    May the name of God be praise for the fulfil life of Brother Perry.
    Mojima Etokudo
    February, 28 2013

    Brother Cotham was a spiritual giant. I count it a great honor to have been privileged to appear on lectures with him. We shared a number of meals together; brother Perry did love to eat. I usually arrived for breakfast just after brother Cotham. He was always there and anxiout to get on with the work of preaching the gospel. He’d say, “Lindell, where are those other boys? We need to get moving!” When he arose to preach the word bubbled up from a deep well of love, wisdom, and knowledge. What a treasure! Rest well dear brother!
    Orion Mitchell
    February, 28 2013

    Perry Cotham was a very good example, a man who loved the truth, a man who loved to teach/preach the gospel, a man loved lost souls and understood their greatest need; therefore, it was natural for preachers of the gospel to love him. His tracks should used to teach both members of the church and the lost! He will be missed, but may his example live on in those who lives he touched.
    Frank R. Williams
    February, 28 2013

    Brother Gerald Hurley confirmed my faint memory of Brother Cotham, in Paris, Tx, at the Lamar Ave Church of Christ. My parents, grandmother and other family members attended there for many years. I remember they spoke highly of the Cotham Family. God now has Brother Cotham’s light to shine brighter in that heavenly home. Thanks for that light to have shined God’s Word and Love to so many, both years ago and to new generations.
    To Brother Cotham’s Family your comfort shall be blessings unto you and all those you come in contact with.
    I grew up in San Angelo, Tx; a frequent visitor of Lamar Church of Christ growing up and now live in Maryland. I attend the Laurel Church of Christ. I love to hear these Brother’s names of my parents generation who have continued to give their all.
    In His Loving Service,
    Diane (Keesling) Threat [threet]
    Diane Threat
    February, 28 2013

    I first met Brother Cotham in 1957 when I was yet a teenage student at FHC and preaching regularly for the Coldwater, KY, Church of Christ. He no longer lived there but regularly visited with his parents who lived in that community. It has been a long time since then, but I believe both his parents were living at that time. Later, when I was preaching in Lachine, Quebec, he came and preached a meeting for the English language congregation. It was always a joy to see him often at the Freed-Hardeman lectures. He will be missed by many.
    Donald R. Taylor
    Bon Aqua, Tennessee
    Donald R. Taylor
    February, 28 2013

    The Church has lost a wonderful Christian man. I have enjoyed his writings very much. He was my sister-in-laws uncle. He will be missed greatly, but the Angels in heaven are rejoicing.
    Judy Chgesser
    February, 28 2013

    Truly a spiritual giant has fallen. I was privileged to hear Brother Perry while doing graduate studies at Freed Hardeman University. I treasure the autographed volumes he authored and gave to me- still in my library. He rests with the Lord and his works surely follow.
    Andy Jooste – Ohio
    February, 28 2013

    I am feeling sorry that I did not have the opportunity to meet this great man of God. Even though our brother is now gone, his legacy, however, will remain forever.I personally thank God for him, for he preached the Gospel “in season and out of season” and took the Great Commission very seriously, as it should be. The sacrifices he made in life were many, but now comes the reward. Victory! Much like the apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 4:7,8, I could imagine brother Perry B.Cotham saying before his departure.
    Jenjan M. Damuy
    March, 1 2013

    I worshipped at Skillman Avenue church of Christ at the sane time Perry and Theresa. I was there when she passed. My husband, Don Horn occasionally did carpentry work at their home in Grand Prairie. I hust recently read his book “Beyond Sunset” and thoroughly enjoyed it as I saw scripture for all the teaching contained therin. I plan to speak to women later on this very subject rellaying what I learned from Brother Cothan’s last book.
    Loyce Horn
    March, 1 2013

    Who’s gonna fill their shoes…who’s gonna stand that tall?
    March, 1 2013

    A man named Barclay Jones (He was a member of the Eastside Church of Christ in Baltimore MD) said he had a cousin he wanted to see before he died (He was ill at the time) so we invited his cousin Parry Cotham to hold a gospel for us even thugh he was in his 90’s. What a blessing that was! What a man of God – a man made you imagine that he was “an image of Christ”. We quickly came to love him and apppreciate him for his christlike spirit. He will be deeply missed on this earth by all of us who shared his love for Christ. Ray and Mona Carol Nurray
    Ray Murray Jr.
    March, 1 2013

    I remember seeing and reading Brother Cotham’s tracts that were in our revolving tract rack at the Coronado, California church of Christ where I grew up in the 1950’s and 60’s. My mother handed them out to teach her non Christian friends, and also used them to teach my best friend in high school about Christ and His church, eventually being baptized into Christ. While stationed with the US Navy living in Memphis TN, my wife and I finally met Brother and Sister Cotham and kept them in our home on several occasions during the Spiritual Sword lectureships and the Memphis School of Preaching Lectureships. What a blessing it was to get to know them and learn of his world wide travels. We later had Brother Cotham stay in our home in Waldorf Maryland where he preached in our gospel meeting. In his 90’s, his mastery of preaching using the white board and bed sheet sermons was amazing. One lady was baptized and one restored. We continue to use all 17 of his gospel tracts in our Waldorf congregation tract rack. When our supply of tracts would run low, while he was still living in his house in Grand Prairie, I would contact Brother Cotham and he would go to his garage or drive the printers office, and get the tracts we needed and take them personnaly to the Post Office and put them in the mail to me. Brother Cotham’s work of teaching the gospel of Christ to both Christians and non-Christians will live on through his tracts and books. As we plan to attend the funeral service in Grand Prairie today, our thoughts and prayers are with his family as Brother Cotham is remembered as a great Gospel Preacher and soldier of the Cross. Bob and Linda Alley
    Bob and Linda Alley
    March, 2 2013

    if i was not mistaken he visited the Philippines, too, Baguio City, in the late 70s � really a big and tall guy � he preached about paradise and tartarus at a gospel meeting hosted by baguio city church of christ..bro. cotham’s soul surely now in paradise with father Abraham.
    Orlando Braga
    March, 3 2013

    Correction….the church in Paris, Texas is Lamar Avenue Church of Christ.
    Molly Woodall
    March, 7 2013

    I enjoyed reading every tracks and books which we have in Kakinada school of preaching”Perry B.Cotham library “.we missed you alot.
    March, 7 2013

    The very thought of Bro. Cotham being with the Lord thrills our souls. He has been one of the greatest influences in my life as a young gospel preacher.He came many times to Scotland and preached outstanding lessons. I just could not believe the energy and passion he had for the work of the Lord. He was 90 years old when he last preached a meeting for us in Scotland,one of the many countries he visited on that trip.)
    Indeed his life was consumed with the spread of the gospel and we are so indebted to him. Perry was special guest to our two daughters (double wedding) and he was so happy to be part of that and loved the Scottish traditional wedding. He will always be rememebred by many in Scotland as one of the finest to grace our shores. We truly loved him.
    “Blessed are those who die in the Lord”
    Jack Strachan
    March, 8 2013

    I just read in the May Christian Chronical (pg. 7) “Perry Cotham, gospel preacher for 80 plus years, dies at 101.” He is the preacher who baptized my mom when she was 21 years old in 1945. I was about 4 years old and we attended the Mekasukey street church of Christ in Wewoka, Oklahoma. He brought my mom to Christ who in turn taught me and so he was instrumental in my becoming a Christian. That is what this life is all about. Some plant, some water, some reap the harvest, and God gives the increase. I’m so very thankful for the life of this man. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
    Vicki Urist
    April, 12 2013

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