Read our Privacy Policy concerning online obituaries and release of information.


Jack F. Cotton

Jack F. Cotton

Jack Franklin Cotton was born in Tupelo, Mississippi on February 10, 1944 and passed away November 30, 2017. He was a man who never met a stranger, was the life of the party, and a friend to all. You can trace his life by the nicknames he was dubbed by the people that loved him.

Growing up in Memphis, Tennessee he was called ’Kink’, by his numerous cousins due to his white curly hair. He attended Saint Teresa’s Little Flower, Catholic Church and school where he started his long football career at 3 years old as the mascot for the school team.

He attended Christian Brother’s High School where he was called ‘Shelby’ for Shelby County, Tennessee because he lettered in football, baseball, basketball and track. As quarterback he was voted All-Memphis for offense and defense in football. His senior year he was recruited by the Saint Louis Cardinals. In, 1998 Jack was inducted into the Christian Brother’s Hall of Fame.

At the University of Tennessee, he was known by his football teammates as ‘Cotton’. He was recruited by The Volunteers as a quarterback but ended up playing as a monster back. After his senior year he had his most defining moment in his life when he married his college sweetheart, Ellen Tidwell, wife of 52 years. After a successful career as a Volunteer he was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys as a punter, but Uncle Sam drafted him to Vietnam.

During his time in Vietnam he was known as ‘The Aide’ because he was the aide to Colonel Dwight Adams. He served in the Army from 1967 to 1970 during the TET Offense.

In 1969, he became ‘Daddy’ when Jack and Ellen had their first child, Mary Claire. Four years later they had their second child, Jack Franklin, II. Mary Claire would go on to marry Tommy Hopper and Jack would marry Shelby Wittenberg.

Jack was hired by Witt Stephens in 1976 to leave Union Planters in Memphis and move to Little Rock. During his 36 years at Stephens he worked his way up to Vice President of Municipal Dealer Sales. While at Stephens he was affectionately known as ‘Bubba’ because Jack could never remember names, therefore he called people Bubba to cover this fact.

‘Papa’ was his new nickname once Taylor, his first grandchild was born. Taylor was proceeded by Shelby, Witt, and Thomas. Up until his final days he would reminisce about spending time with his grandchildren at his cabin on The Little Red River in Georgetown, Arkansas.

The family appreciates all the love and care they received from the VA Hospital, Clarity Pointe, St. Vincent’s Hospital, and Hospice.

Jack’s funeral service will be held at Ruebel Funeral Home, 6313 West Markham St., Little Rock, Arkansas on December 4, 2017 at 4:00 p.m. followed be a celebration of Jack’s life from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Ruebel. The family has requested that memorials be made to the Humane Society of choice. Arrangements are under the direction of Ruebel Funeral Home,

Condolence Book

"My heartfelt sympathies are with your wonderful family and many friends. So sorry for your loss and thankful for the memories. "
Mark Headlee | Little Rock, AR

"Dear Ellen, Marie Claire, and Jackie;

We are sorry to hear of Jack’s passing. Y’all are in our thoughts and prayers."

Chris and Margarita Gibbons | Little Rock , AR

"We love you all so much."
Amy Lee | Little rock, AR

"Sweet Mister Cotton! I remember him so fondly and just love seeing his smile again. I have so many wonderful memories of being at your house, Mary Claire, and how kind he was to us girls. I am so sorry for you, Little Jackie and Miss Ellen. Sending big love from Oregon! "
Ashley Henry | Portland, OR

"Thinking about y’all and praying for you. Always loved hearing Jackie talk. "
Patricia J Moore | Halls, TN

"Mary Claire,
My thoughts and sympathy are extended to you and your family. May the wonderful and cherished memories bring comfort. God Bless

Deirdre Buffington | Kill Devil Hills, NC

"Mary Claire, I’m so sorry for your loss. I know how hard it is to lose your daddy. You and your family are in my prayers. xo Leigh Ann "
Leigh Ann Raper | Little Rock, AR

"Many prayers for the Cotton/Hopper families at this time. I am grateful to have known Mr Jack and for having the opportunity to witness the true love he had for his family. He will be missed. Cheers to a life well lived!
Ann Dedmon"

Ann Dedmon | Dyersburg , TN

There are people we meet in our lives that are the reason we have chosen the profession we work in. Jack along with your family was one of those special families for me. In the short time I knew Jack he had become a special person in my heart and Ellen your love and care for him spoke deeply to my heart. He and you will always hold a very special place in my heart. Prayers for you and your family."

Susan Webre | Benton, AR

"Ellen and Family,
Sorry to hear about Jackie. He was fun to be around. I'm sure I speak for all your former classmates at Whitehaven High with our thoughts and prayers.

T.K. Thompson | Olive Branch, MS

"Shelby, Jack, Ellen, Witt and Thomas - We are in Chicago or we have been with you! Know we are thinking of you always. George and Peter"
George H. Wittenberg, 111 | Little Rock, AR

" We were saddened to learn of Jackie's passing. As my freshman college roommate, he really made this out-of-state Georgia boy feel welcome. Jackie was an outstanding teammate and a wonderful lifetime friend. With such numerous attributes, his memory will definitely not be forgotten. We trust our thoughts and prayers will bring comfort to you and your family. May God bless and strengthen you at this difficult time and in the days ahead. Rosie joins me in sending our love, Glenn"
Glenn A. Gray | Evans, GA

"Jack, Shelby and family,

It's been many years since I've seen Mr Cotton, but I will always remember how kind and welcoming he was from the very first time I met him. Ian and I are so very sorry for your loss. I wish we could be there to comfort you during this time. We love you all so very much. "

Allison Tarcelli-Burgess | London, UK

"A wonderful friend. So much fun. Thanks for the great story of his life. Missed "
Jean & Ben Ward | Destin

"What an awesome legacy from his childhood to his grandchildren. There are not many that get to live life this way. I am sorry for your loss- God bless your family. Love from the Smith's

Zach Smith | Dyersburg, TN

"Mary Clair & Family,

We are saddened by Mr. Jack's passing and I know he certainly will be missed. Sending prayers


Ronda Heathcott | Dyersburg, TN

"Thank you sir for being apart of the great UT Vols program, and that fantastic 1965 team. My condolences go out to his family. "
Trent Waller | Hendersonville, TN

"Dear Cotton Family and Pups,
I'm so very sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time.
Mary Katherine "

Mary Katherine Henderson | Little Rock, AR

"Ellen, so sorry to hear of Jackie's passing. If Bunny was still with us she would feel your sadness too.

Chuck Bertling | Bartlett, TN

Sign Condolence Book
Please fill out the form below to enter your name and a short message to the family into the online condolence book. Please type in regular sentence format; do not type in all capital letters; only type your condolence or comments in the Comments field. Your signature will be formatted from the Name,City & State, and E-mail fields. Please remember that you are leaving comments for a public guestbook and not sending personal email to family members. Do not type in email or letter format. Phone numbers and Addresses (other than email) will not be posted.
* denotes required fields.
City and State*
E-mail Address
Online Disclosure
By pressing submit, you understand: 1) The information you provide will be posted on the publicly accessible web page. 2) Ruebel Funeral Home cannot be held responsible for any inconvenience or unwanted emails that may result. 3) Entries may be censored, edited or deleted at the discretion of the Ruebel Funeral Home website administrator. 4) Entry may be removed at request of family members or representative in charge of the arrangements.

If you cannot read the two words above, click the "Get a New Challenge" button below the words (looks like two red arrows in a circle). That will give you a new set of words.

© Copyright 2006-2007, Ruebel Funeral Home
Site Design by J&J Multimedia