Robert E. “Cotton” Comer was born in Carthage, Missouri on August 1, 1920 to Ernest Comer and Mary Ellen (Conley) Comer. Nicknamed “Cotton” by best friends, the moniker stuck. He graduated from Carthage High School in 1938 and worked in his grandfather’s bakery, Conley Bakery just off the Carthage Square. Cotton enlisted in the Army National Guard in 1939 and was a veteran of WWII. In 1943, he was awarded the Bronze Star for service in the Aleutian Islands campaign. He married Maurine Adele Ainsworth Reynolds in 1953, and together they raised nine children, four daughters and five sons.
Cotton joined Hercules Powder Company in 1945 as a Stationary Steam Engineer. He is remembered and was recognized in July 1966 for his courage and assistance in the Hercules plant explosion, sounding the emergency whistle and heroically remaining until everyone was clear of the area as the building fell in around him. Retiring from Hercules in 1982, he also received special recognition for never missing a day of work in 37 years.
Following retirement, Cotton served his community as a Jasper County Sheriff Deputy and on the Carthage Library Board. He was a member of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2590 in Carthage, as well as the Knights of Pythias. He was a charter member of Carthage Booster Club, serving as President for 17 years. He was a lifetime member of Grace Episcopal Church in Carthage, serving as an altar boy in his youth.
Cotton was well known for filming for Carthage High School football, basketball, and baseball games, as well as Missouri Southern State University athletics for more than 23 years. He was one of the top camera operators in the area, and opposing teams often requested a copy of his game film rather than filming themselves. His MSSU films were used regularly on KODE Channel 12 on the Jim Frazier Show. For his contributions to MSSU athletics, Coach Jim Frazier presented him with a signed game ball after winning the NAIA National Football Championship in 1972. Upon retiring from filming Carthage games in 1986, he was honored for his many years of outstanding service to Carthage High School athletics. Cotton also shared his talent for filming with 16mm movie cameras by recording other important Carthage events such as the annual Maple Leaf Parade and Marching Band Festival.
Mr. Comer passed away on July 19, 2002 and is buried in Park Cemetery, Carthage.