Cover photo for James "Cotton" Milton McKenzie's Obituary
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James "Cotton" Milton McKenzie

March 29, 1937 — May 14, 2024


James "Cotton" Milton McKenzie

James “Cotton” Milton McKenzie, Jr. of Bryant, AR passed away on May 14, 2024, at the age of 87. He was born March 29, 1937, in Beebe, Arkansas. He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Bonnie Sue; his children, Melissa Atkins (Jeff) and Michael McKenzie (Collin); and to hear him tell it, the best grandkids on the planet- Ian and Rader Francis, James “Ryan” and Austyn McKenzie. 

He is also survived by one sister, Jimmie Ruth Lewis of Fort Smith, and several nieces and nephews, step-grandkids, and step-great-grandkids. Cotton was preceded in death by his parents, Helen Ruth (Roberson) McKenzie and James Milton McKenzie, Sr. and four sisters, Lynette, Dorthea, Gwyndolyn, and Marie.


We could talk about his education and the two-year military career, but he might haunt us if we did. He wasn’t a big fan of school, but he did enjoy his stint at Little Rock Tech High where he learned to be a machinist. That training led to a career with Teletype then AT&T until he retired with full benefits at 52 years old. Yes, his children are both very jealous of his retirement age and full pension. No, we will not elaborate further as we feel that should be obvious to everyone.


His grandkids might have been #1 in his heart, but his love for fishing, camping, golfing, horse races, baseball, and poker were all a close second. (He was a complicated man, ok?) Dementia may have robbed him of his short-term memories, but it gave his family the gift of his past. He enjoyed reliving stories from his childhood with his oldest friend and partner-in-crime (we don’t know if that is literal or not; you know, for plausible deniability purposes) James Kenneth Colclasure. Their friendship spanned many decades, and even in the last few years as Cotton’s memory began to fade; James Kenneth still picked him up weekly so he could make his standing reservation with the Spit and Cuss breakfast club at the Bryant McDonalds.


In his youth, he was a pretty darn good baseball player, and in his adulthood, he was a pretty darn good softball and golf coach to his kids.


Dementia took a lot from Cotton, but it didn’t rob him of recognizing his wife, kids, and his grandkids. His dad jokes were the last to go. When asked if he needed anything, he never failed to answer, “A million dollars.” Before he let go, he made sure to tell his kids he lived a good life, had few regrets, and no complaints. He was tired and wanted to rest.


Rest well, Cotton. You’ve earned it.


There will be a graveside service at 1:00 Thursday, May 23, 2024, at Pinecrest Cemetery.


In lieu of flowers or meat trays, the family would appreciate contributions to one of the following organizations: Alzheimer’s Arkansas, American Heart Association – Arkansas, or American Diabetes Association – Arkansas.

Arrangements entrusted to Smith-Benton Funeral Home.
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Graveside Service

Thursday, May 23, 2024

1:00 - 1:30 pm (Central time)

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