LATHROP – To say that Rev. Maurice Cotton Sr. touched many lives would be an understatement.
For nearly 40 years, Cotton – who passed away in February – served as the Shepherd to the flock at Highlight Church of God in Christ at the corner of Lathrop Road and Stratford Avenue. Whether it was spreading the word of God, mentoring those who needed guidance, feeding and housing the homeless or just being an anchor in a community that he called home, Cotton undeniably left his mark.
And on Saturday, Sept. 3, the City of Lathrop will honor the late clergyman by renaming Stratford Avenue – which happened to be the street that he first lived on when he came to Lathrop – Reverend Maurice Cotton Drive. The ceremony will begin at Highland C.O.G.I.C. at 10 a.m., and will conclude with the unveiling of the new street sign.
“I’m very excited about it,” said Minnie Lee Cotton – his wife of 64 years. “I didn’t think that I’d ever get the chance to see it, but I thank God that it’s happening.”
Shortly after Cotton passed away, the family approached the Lathrop City Council and petitioned that the street that runs along the side of the church that he ministered at for nearly four decades be renamed in his honor. According to daughter Dorothy Benjamin – the oldest of his nine children – it was his community outreach that really helped push the decision through.
“He was very active here in Lathrop, and did a lot of work in the community and that was a big part of why the City Council approved the name change,” said Benjamin. “It really means a lot to me and the rest of our family that this is something that’s really happening.”
The dedication carries a little extra weight for daughter Doris Cotton-Williams, who makes her home on Stratford Avenue and will soon be able to renew her driver’s license and see her father’s name listed as the street that she now lives on.
She already tried to go down to the DMV once to get it changed, but was told that she’d have to wait until it was formally unveiled before she could put it for the change.
“I’m very honored and excited about this. I’d say that I’m more honored than most because my license is going to bear his name, and that means a lot to me,” she said. “It’s like it’s something that’s predestined, and that’s a big deal for me.”
The dedication itself will begin with singing by the King’s Kids and will open with a prayer. A handful of clergymen including Reverend Calvin Bynum of Fresno and Reverends Terry Saffold and Randolph Kirkland of Stockton will be on hand for the ceremony. Members of the Lathrop City Council including Vice Mayor Christopher Mateo are slated to be in attendance, and other local dignitaries have been invited.
To keep in tradition with the Cotton’s concession business, fried catfish baskets and hot links will be available for purchase to help offset the cost of the new furniture and carpet installed at the church.