AMerican Veteran 11

Joe Fredrick Cothron

January 12, 1938 ~ February 29, 2020 (age 82)


Joe Fredrick Cothron, of Ft. Valley, passed away Saturday, February 29, 2020, at the age of 82 after living an extraordinary life.  Funeral services will be held Thursday, March 5, 2020 at 2:00PM at the Hart’s Chapel on Cherry Street.  The family will greet friends Wednesday, March 4, 2020 from 5:00PM until 7:00PM at Hart’s on Cherry.  Interment will be held at Riverside Cemetery.  In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to St. Jude Children’s Hospital, 5901 Peachtree Dunwoody Rd, Atlanta, GA 30328.

A member of the Sons of the American Revolution, Joe was a direct descendant of General Joseph Martin and Isham Beasley, both veterans of the American Revolution and influential in the founding of this great country. Joe was born in Hillsdale, Tennessee to Curtis Victor and Kathryn Gregory Cothron, who have preceded him in death. As a young man, he played football at Macon County High School in Lafayette, Tennessee, until a shoulder injury sidelined him. After graduation, he joined the United States Air Force to begin his career as an international spy, however, as it so often happens, life had other plans. In 1959, Joe was honorably discharged from the Air Force and returned to Macon County, Tennessee where he met the love of his life, Shirley, and then married her after knowing her for many (4) weeks. From 1959 to 1961, Joe was employed by RCA working at Cape Canaveral in the early days of space exploration. In 1961, Joe left Florida and returned to Tennessee with Shirley to begin his studies at the University of Tennessee. There, he entered a secret contract that compelled him to don ritual clothing in violent shades of orange and gather with other similarly attired students for possibly nefarious purposes. Joe graduated in 1965 with a BS in electrical engineering and he returned to Florida, with his now family of three, and to his job with RCA. As this was the height of the Cold War, much of Joe’s work was completed in secret, including his trips to a military blackout site near Mayaguana Airport in the Bahamas. This information has since been declassified and the sites can be toured by the general public.

Joe’s work continued to move he and his family around the United States, including time working with General Dynamics on the F1-11 program in Fort Worth, Texas. In August of 1975, the family of four finally settled in Georgia and Joe went into Civil Service working out of Robins Air Force Base with the F-15 program. A loving husband, a good father, he was a man of few words and most of them were sarcastic. When he left this earth he was surrounded by the people who loved him the most and is survived by his soulmate, Shirley, his two daughters, Kelly Sullivan Joyner (John) and Keri Hall (Kevin), his three grandchildren, Carrie Lawler (Brandon), Katie Sullivan, and Benjamin Hall, and his younger sisters, Connie Williams (J.R.) and Polly Donaho (Glen Harold). Joe was preceded in death by his younger brother, Ricky Cothron.

To the end Joe was a diehard Tennessee Volunteer, always cheering them on, whether they were successful that season or not. There was nothing better to Joe than to hear Rocky Top after a UT touchdown.

Joe was, and is, much loved and will be greatly missed.

Please visit to express condolences.

Hart’s on Cherry Street, Hart's Mortuary and Cremation Center, 765 Cherry Street, Macon, GA 31201 has charge of the arrangements.


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March 4, 2020

5:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Hart's Mortuary & Cremation Center, Downtown Cherry Street
765 Cherry Street
Macon, GA 31201

Funeral Service
March 5, 2020

2:00 PM
Hart's Mortuary & Cremation Center, Downtown Cherry Street
765 Cherry Street
Macon, GA 31201

Interment following funeral service
March 5, 2020

Riverside Cemetery
1301 Riverside Drive
Macon, GA 31201


St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
501 St. Jude Place, Memphis TN 38105
Tel: 1-800-805-5856

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