Lamarse H. “Cotton” Ivy, who was born the son of a sharecropper in Decatur County, Tennessee and led a wonderful life as a schoolteacher, coach, insurance agent, national country humorist, state legislator and Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture, died on May 25, 2021 at the age of 91. Mr. Ivy passed away at AHC Westwood, in his hometown of Decaturville, Tennessee after battling an extended period of illness.
Cotton was born and raised only 40 miles from Eddy Arnold and Minnie Pearl and got his nickname because of the white hair he had as a youngster. The area’s culture, local characters and the colorful language of the people had a great influence on Cotton’s imagination and his ability to express himself in humorous stories. Cotton honed and used his gift of humor to relate to those around him by sharing his life and helping people in every way he could.
After serving in the United States Air Force and graduating from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville with a degree in agriculture, Cotton was a vocational-ag teacher, worked for American Cyanamide Company, followed by a tenure with Farm Bureau Insurance. He excelled at both companies as top salesman and eventually turned his attention full time toward entertaining with his special brand of country humor. He signed with the same booking agency as Jerry Clower, Top Billing in Nashville, recorded 4 albums and traveled the country bringing laughter and smiles to state organizations, conventions and national meetings throughout the year.
He was a frequent guest on TV’s Hee Haw, Ralph Emery’s Nashville Now and the Grand Ole Opry. His warm Southern humor and Christian beliefs were a perfect way to entertain audiences across the nation by telling stories of his upbringing in West Tennessee. As former Commissioner of Agriculture, Cotton was instrumental in consolidating the Department of Forestry and creation of the regional laboratory at Ellington Center in Nashville. The facility is named the “L. H. Cotton Ivy” Laboratory in his honor. He was President of the Southern Association of State Departments of Agriculture, President of the Southern United States Trade Association of State Departments of Agriculture, President of the Southern United States Trade Association, Board of Trustees of the University of Tennessee, Tennessee State Board of Regents, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission, Country Music Association, National 4-H Club Alumni, Honorary Doctor of Humanities Degree of Gulf Coast Seminary, Honorary American FFA Degree, Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation, nominated for a Grammy award for comedy, recipient of the Kroger Agriculture Scholarship and member of Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity as well as many other awards and accolades.
While he received many honors from organizations both government and private, the accomplishment of which he is most proud, is the countless lives he touched and led to his Savior Jesus Christ as a frequent lay speaker with the Gideons International. He spoke frequently at various churches and events throughout the country and spread the gospel to all who would listen.
Cotton is survived by his loving wife of 72 years Pat, his sons Vic ( Linda) and Tim ( Missy) both of Jackson, TN and five grandsons, Derek, Shane, Sam, Tim Jr., and Thomas, one granddaughter, Sara, and many great-grandsons and a great granddaughter, and daughters in law Deborah, Gail and Brenda. He is also survived by his brother Paul. He was predeceased by his sons Jan and Bob, as well as his parents, Howard and Annie, brother Newman and sister Genita.
The family will receive friends and loved ones on Friday May 28, 2021 from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM at Trinity Assembly of God at 1141 Southwest St. Decaturville, Tennessee. The memorial service will follow at 2:00 PM officiated by Reverend Tommy Harrell and Reverend Steve Douglas and Reverend Keith Kirk. Burial will follow at the Concord Cemetery near Decaturville.
Pallbearers are Derek Ivy, Shane Ivy, Sara Ivy, Sam Ivy, Thomas Ivy and John Lawson Keeton.
Honorary pallbearers are T.J. Ivy, Junior Mayo, Dalton Tolley, Tony Campbell, Ronnie Pulley and Jeff Milam.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Gideons International P.O. Box 351 Parsons, TN 38363. The family request no food be brought to visitation due to Covid concerns.
Reed’s Chapel – Decaturville is in charge of arrangements.