David Allen Cotter

30-Nov-1940 - 17-Sep-2022

Obituary Overview

David Allen Cotter


“I want to be remembered as a positive person.” August 20, 2022

Peacefully at home, surrounded by his wife Ann and daughters Jill and Meredith, David passed away on Saturday, September 17, 2022, in his eighty-second year.
David Allen Cotter was born November 30, 1940, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Mortimer Ralston Cotter (1967) and Muriel Grace Sinkler Cotter (2011). During her long life, his mother was a beloved influence in his positive outlook. David idolized his only sibling, his older brother Dennis (2016). Growing up, he loved his family summers in Ocean City, New Jersey.
David knew as a youngster that he wanted to be a scientist. He graduated from Lincoln High School in Philadelphia in 1959. He earned his BS degree in Microbiology at Penn State University at College Park, Pennsylvania, and both his MSc in Bacteriology (1965) and Ph.D. in Microbiology (1967) at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
He met his future wife Angela (Ann) Grabel in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1967, and they married on June 29, 1968. They were married for 54 years and three months. Their first year of marriage was spent in Honolulu, Hawaii, where David did a one-year postdoctoral study. He completed a second-year postdoctoral study in Indianapolis, Indiana. David was an assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts, North Dartmouth, from 1970 - 1975.
David and Ann welcomed two daughters while living in Massachusetts, Jill Erin, in 1971, now living in Ottawa, Ontario, and Meredith Anne, in 1973, now living in New Orleans, Louisiana. His daughters have always been a source of immense pride and comfort.
The Cotter family moved to Ontario, Canada, in July 1975, as David took a full professorship in the Biology Department at the University of Windsor, where he taught microbiology and supervised many graduate students in his research lab. He worked diligently to maintain research funding over his entire career, publishing more than eighty research papers. David held the positions of Associate Dean of Research and Biology Department Chair, participating in professional conferences and sabbaticals worldwide, in Japan, Germany, Australia, England, France, Scotland, Italy, and across Canada and the United States. He retired from academia after thirty-eight years of service in 2006, becoming a Professor Emeritus.
David greatly enjoyed living with Ann in their Kingsville house on Lake Erie for thirty-six years. He loved chopping wood, following the stock market, eating lemon meringue pie, pizza, and other treats, growing bamboo, trekking along the shoreline, playing with Taz, the neighbours’ cat, conversing with anyone, traveling, and spending vacations with extended family in Ocean City, New Jersey. David and Ann downsized and moved to a condo in Ottawa, Ontario, in 2019 to be near their daughter Jill and family.
In addition to his daughters, David dearly loved his entire family. He beamed with pride and total joy over his sons-in-law, Stephan Bowman and Bryan Bowdler, and his six grandchildren, the four Bowman kids, Anna, Millie, twins Henry and Elliott, and the two Bowdler children, Emory and Eliza. His beloved grandchildren were his special blessing in life. David felt so lucky to add to his family through his daughters’ in-laws, Shirley & Randy Bowman and Cath & Ted Bowdler, and treasured celebrating many joyful holidays and milestones together.
David cherished family vacations in Ocean City, New Jersey. The entire extended family got together for twelve summers in a rented house right on the beach. David was especially grateful that his brother Dennis and Dennis’ loving friend Ann Jones, his great nephew, Matt Rhoades and family, and Sinkler cousins and their families joined us during these beach holidays.
David greatly enjoyed visiting Ann’s extended family at the Grabel family reunions. During Covid, he appreciated the regular phone calls with his brothers- and sisters-in-law. David had a special closeness with Ann’s sister Jackie who provided continual loving support.
David loved the friends, neighbors, and relatives in his life with whom he would converse on such a wide variety of topics. Thank-you for your many kindnesses. He was dedicated to learning throughout his whole life. In addition to science, he especially enjoyed history and geography. He was uncanny in remembering the plots of movies. David was hard-working, responsible, humble, kind, human, optimistic, fun-loving, humorous, appreciative, and a wonderful storyteller and teacher. He saw the good in people and in the day. Shortly before the end of his life, David told Ann, “It’s been a fine journey” (September 13, 2022).
David was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) in 2012 and underwent chemotherapy for several years until the disease transformed to Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) in 2022. He always endured treatments with grace and positivity. Deep gratitude is extended to Windsor Regional Cancer Centre, where he received excellent care for eight years under Dr. Sindu Kanjeekaal. Sincere appreciation to the Ottawa Hospital Leukemia Doctors for their thorough care these past three years. Heartfelt gratitude to the Ottawa Hospital emergency and inpatient care providers during David’s hospitalizations in 2022. Many thanks for the kind attention and treatment given by Medical Day Care Unit staff. Utmost appreciation to Dr. Lisa Cross and the nurses for such thorough palliative care in ensuring David’s safety and final comfort.
Finally, every unmentioned nurse, office staff, medical personnel, and all of the countless other individuals - our deepest gratitude for so many kindnesses shown and such excellent care.
Thank you to the AAMAC Monthly Support Group for sharing your stories and for your caring concern.
The utmost appreciation goes to blood donors, OUR HEROES, who gave David the Gift of Life for many additional months.
At his request, David has donated his body to the Anatomy Department of the University of Ottawa.
Online expressions of condolences are gratefully accepted. Condolence cards can be mailed to Kelly Funeral Home, 585 Somerset Street West, Ottawa, Ontario, K1R 5K1, for forwarding to David’s family.
Memorial Donations can be made either to Canadian Blood Services or the Aplastic Anemia & MDS International Foundation .
Arrangements were handled by Kelly Funeral Home.

Condolences from family and friends

Posted by Tracy Marr | 04-Oct-2022


It is with great sadness to hear of the passing of Dr. David Cotter. I was a MSC graduate student of his, studying slime molds. Dr. Cotter had a passion for his research, and a greater love for his family. He was a very positive, calm, and encouraging professor who will be greatly missed by his colleagues and those lives of students he impacted. It was a pleasure to have the privilege to work under Dr. David Cotter. May he Rest In Peace!

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Posted by Andrew Hubberstey | 26-Sep-2022


My deepest condolences to Ann, Jill, Meredith and all extended family members. I worked with Dave in the Department of Biological Sciences from my arrival in 1997 until his retirement in 2006. I have so many fond memories of Dave and his lab; Many, many Dictyostelium stories along with discussing the latest in actin research. Almost every time we saw each other, we would stop and discuss a paper he had just read or a student's project results or a story about his family. Dave was such a positive person with boundless energy and made our environment truly a fun place to work. I also fondly remember a Departmental Council retreat at his beautiful Kingsville home along with his unwavering support and encouragement of his many graduate and undergraduate students. He loved science, research and education and his positive presence on campus will be sorely missed.

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