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In Memorium: George “Cotton” Fletcher 

In Memorium: George “Cotton” Fletcher 

Last month on March 1, Cotton Fletcher passed away. He was my friend and mentor. Like many others, I felt my friendship with Cotton was special.  He had a way of making everybody feel that way.  

I met Cotton a little over 20 years ago.  I was starting my first publication, Building Savvy, and was attending a membership luncheon at the Builders Assocation of North Central Florida.  Cotton invited me to sit with him. He asked me about my business, but mostly wanted to talk family.  This was the man Cotton was. Cotton was one of those men who could balance being a strong advocate, a passionate supporter, a strong-minded businessman and a firm negotiator with being a loving father, husband, grandfather and friend. 

Much is known about the businessman; his decades of running the family business, the cattle farm, the sawmill. He put his stamp on the community with Fletcher Family Companies and its developments in Alachua County, including Fletcher Plaza, Gloria Fletcher Executive Center and Zaxby’s. On the residential side, he brought us Fletcher’s Mill, Fletcher Oaks, Savannah Station and Gloria’s Way.  As shrewd as Cotton was in the business world, it was just a fraction of the man.   

Cotton was a patriot, serving in both the US Navy and the US Air Force. He was a community advocate and tireless servant, volunteering his time serving on boards such as Alachua General Hospital, the United Way (serving as Division Chair), Haven Hospice and the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce.  He was committed to making a difference. What was most striking was the way he went about it all. He preferred to be behind the scenes. He was completely comfortable in avoiding the limelight.  

While he was great at what he did, it was not his work that lit that infamous spark in his eye or mischievous smile. Cotton was, before all else, a family man. I volunteered with his wife Gloria supporting children’s causes for many years.  Cotton was always right there beside her. I went through Leadership Gainesville with his son Blake, who he was so incredibly proud of.  

When I reflect on some of my favorite memories with Cotton, I can’t help but remember our conversation when I decided to run for county commission. It was a bit intimidating meeting with Cotton to ask for his support. Rest assured, he tried to talk me out of it. It wasn’t that he didn’t think I would do well. In fact, as much as he tried to talk me out of running, he extolled the virtues of why he thought I would do well.  His concern was the impact on my family. The impact on my business. After about an hour of questions, he pulled out the checkbook and began writing. Six of them, one for each business. He held the fundraiser for me. He held a sign and introduced me to influential people he thought I should know. All of this while knowing how slim the chances were of winning, as there hasn’t been an NPA candidate elected before in the county. That was Cotton to a tee. When he believed in you, when he supported you, when he loved you, it was 100%.  

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The loss of Cotton will be felt by thousands and his impact in our community can’t be overstated. He made a difference in the life of every person he met, especially mine. I will miss you, my friend! 

Scott Costello 

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