On Saturday, May 20, the Cotter family and St. Sebastian’s alumni gathered at the Griffith Headmaster’s House to memorialize former longstanding trustee and member of the Board of Visitors, Jim Cotter ’57, who passed away in April of 2020. The memorial service coincided with what would have been Jim’s 65th Reunion and drew several alumni including Jack Doherty ’62, and Jim’s classmates Ed O’Donaghue ’57, John Sullivan ’57, and Charlie Monahan ’57. The Cotter family was well represented by Jim’s brothers Bobby and Bill, Bill’s wife Suzy, as well as their three children, Mike Cotter, Chris Cotter, and Lindsay Sullivan.
Headmaster Burke opened the service with a prayer and offered a powerful eulogy befitting a man who impacted his beloved alma mater so much. Having met Mr. Cotter in the search process that brought him to St. Sebastian’s, Mr. Burke recalled those early days fondly:
“Jim was one of six eminent members of our Arrows family on the St. Sebastian’s Headmaster Search Committee in 1989-1990. So, you see, I was blessed to come to know and love Jim Cotter even before the beginning.
And what a great introduction! Clearly an intelligent, energetic, passionate, and inspirational leader totally devoted to his School, Jim drew me in immediately. Here, I believed, was a man from whom I could learn much and with whom I could have an awful lot of fun along the way.”
Headmaster Burke went on:
“The game plan was well established and abundantly clear from well before I showed up: Jim knew who we were, from whence we had come, and where we hoped to go. He understood the finances, clearly, but he also understood a whole lot more. He understood the greatness and importance of St. Sebastian’s spiritual and educational mission. Ours was, had been, and forever must be a Catholic School grounded in the truth gained through faith and reason, a place where every student and every family regardless of financial means could feel comfortable and at home. Jim took great pride in the truth that ours was a School community in which the sheet metal worker and the venture capitalist stood side by side as equals when watching their sons perform on the ice, the courts, the fields, and the stage. Our faith teaches and our daily practice reaffirms that rich or poor, black or white, no person is any better or any worse than another. Rather, we’re all made in the image and likeness of God and called by God to be the best people we can be in body, mind, and spirit, to love God and to love one another.”
In conclusion, Headmaster Burke shared this farewell to one of St. Sebastian’s greatest sons:
“St. John of the Cross asserts:
In the twilight of our lives all that will matter is how we have loved.
By that measure, by any measure, what a success was and is the life of Jim Cotter!
I have heard it said and I believe it to be true that death ends a life, not a relationship and that death is not the final period on the sentence; it’s only a comma. Jim hasn’t really left us. He’s just walking on ahead, playing through, and we live in hope of one day walking with him in heaven.
For we are a Resurrection people, and Alleluia is our song.”