Former councilman Ed Cotton, who had been hospitalized for more than a week after contracting the new coronavirus, died early Friday morning.
Cotton was 72. He is the husband of councilwoman Ruby Cotton.
“Paterson has lost a legend,” said mayor Andre Sayegh. “Ed Cotton was an accomplished boxing referee, a respected community leader, and a cherished friend.”
When Cotton officiated the Lennox Lewis vs. Mike Tyson fight much of Paterson huddled around television sets. School board member Emanuel Capers recalled tuning into the fight to see Cotton.
“He was the Paterson celebrity,” said Capers.
“Everybody in Paterson was tuned in,” said assemblyman Benjie Wimberly. “He was the most recognizable figure in Paterson for a long time.”
Even before the big fight, Cotton had become a well-known figure in Paterson. He served as the first black president of the City Council and was the first black public works director.
“This one really hurts. I couldn’t believe the news,” said Capers. He had spoken to Cotton’s wife late Thursday afternoon.
Capers remembered Cotton as his coach and referee during his time in little league football.
“He was another father figure,” said Capers. “I always called him uncle Ed. He was always there to help.”
Cotton helped many local leaders. He became one of Sayegh’s early endorsers in 2018, delivering the African-American vote to the mayor.
“He was one of those guys you can call, and he’ll help you out,” said Wimberly. He said Cotton is his biological cousin.
Wimberly said Cotton was also a mentor.
“It’s a huge loss,” said the assemblyman.
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