Cover photo for Thomas J. Cottingham's Obituary
Thomas J. Cottingham Profile Photo
1936 Thomas 2021

Thomas J. Cottingham

August 21, 1936 — October 23, 2021

Thomas J. Cottingham, 85, of Fort Wright, KY passed away on Saturday, October 23, 2021 with his wife and children by his side. Tom (known to many as TC) was born on August 21, 1936 in Covington KY. Tom was preceded in death by his parents Thomas J. Sr. and Elizabeth “Lil” (nee Rechtin) Cottingham. He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Sharon Kemphaus Cottingham. He is also survived by his daughters Debbie (Steve) Durst, Nancy (Ron) Poulos and Tracy (Brian) Todd as well as his cherished grandchildren Ellie, Sam, Maggie and Joey. 

Tom grew up on Russell Street in the Peaselburg neighborhood of Covington, KY and attended St. Augustine School, St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati and St. Mary’s College in Marion County, KY where he majored in Philosophy and joined the seminary. 

After seven years in the seminary, Tom had a change of heart and left to join the workforce. He found a good fit working in the optical business and eventually became owner of Sutton Optical. Forever the teacher, Tom wrote the home study course for the Contact Lens Society of America to be used nationally by prospective contact lens technicians. 

Tom and Sharon met in the summer of 1961 while attending a local youth group program. The couple were married at the Church of St. Agnes in May 1964. They raised their three daughters in Ft. Wright, KY and were active members of St. Agnes Parish where Tom served as a lector for many years. 

Tom had a lifelong love of baseball, playing in a league for several years and ultimately coaching his wife’s and daughters’ softball teams. A member of the Cincinnati Athletic Club, he was an avid handball player and won the CAC singles championship in 1971. 

Favorite pastimes included traveling, gardening, live theater and watching British comedies. He loved listening to classical music as well as the music of the Big Band era with a particular appreciation for Frank Sinatra and the rest of the Rat Pack. 

Tom’s great passion was classic literature and he was an authority on all the major works. That passion fueled his love for writing poetry. At the time of his passing, he had written over 1,000 poems. Family was a recurring theme throughout Tom’s writing. In 2002 his short story “A Little Knowledge” won first place in the Mercantile Library Fiction Competition resulting in admittance to the Santa Barbara Writers’ Conference where he went on to win another contest! He published two books, “Squirrely Squirrely” and “Promise and Passage.”

Tom’s family will receive friends Saturday, October 30 at 9:30am at St. Agnes Catholic Church, 1680 Dixie Highway, Fort Wright, KY. Mass of Christian burial will follow at 10:30am. Reception after services downstairs in Murphy Hall. 

In lieu of flowers, please consider memorial contributions to Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Cincinnati Chapter, 644 Linn Street, Suite 1026, Cincinnati, Ohio 45203 or Diocesan Catholic Children’s Home, 75 Orphanage Road, Ft. Mitchell, KY 41017.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Thomas J. Cottingham, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Saturday, October 30, 2021

9:30 - 10:30 am (Eastern time)

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Mass of Christian Burial

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Starts at 10:30 am (Eastern time)

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


Visits: 34

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the
Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Service map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

Send Flowers

Send Flowers

Plant A Tree

Plant A Tree