FBCC honors John Cotner posthumously

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
May 4, 2022

The family of the late Fernandina Beach architect John Cotner was present at the May 3, 2022 Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) meeting to accept a City Proclamation expressing the City’s profound condolences to the family on his passing.  In reading the Proclamation, Mayor Mike Lednovich listed the many ways in which Cotner had served the City and left his mark as one of the City’s most prolific architects.

Cotner served on City of Fernandina Beach, Nassau County, greater Northeast Florida, and Southeast Georgia advisory boards, committees, and architectural review boards. He also served on the Beach Parks Planning Committee, Building Department Investigative Committee, Island Trail Committee, Island Wide Comprehensive Plan Committee, Main Beach Planning Committee, Nassau County ACHIEVE, Nassau County Committee of 100, Nassau County Contractor’s Review Board, Nassau County YMCA Board of Directors, Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee, Waterfronts Florida Partnership, Amelia Park Architectural Review Board, Osprey Cove Architectural Review Board, Parkway Properties Architectural Review Board, and the Piney Island Architectural Review Board.

The extensive scope of architectural design services Mr. Cotner provided to the City includes, but is not limited to, the following vital projects: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center restrooms and pavilion, Centre Street restrooms, Public Works administration facility, Peck Center landscaping and window replacement, historic Railroad Depot, parking lots C and D, North Beach Park, Seaside Park, Waterfront Park, and the Central Park little league and pop warner facilities.

In 2014, Mr. Cotner was presented with the prestigious Preservation Champion Award in recognition of over twenty-five years of diligent advocacy for Historic Preservation in the City of Fernandina Beach. Later this month, the Preservation Champion Award will be renamed in honor of Mr. Cotner’s legacy.

Mayor Lednovich concluded the Proclamation with the following:  “Mr. Cotner’s indelible mark within our community is truly unrivaled. Fernandina Beach is a better place due to his indomitable spirit and keen influence. His legacy helped shape our island into the crown jewel that so many enjoy today.”

John Cotner’s widow Debby accepted the proclamation on behalf of the family.  She thanked the FBCC and said, “John wasn’t much for awards and accolades, but we his family appreciate this very much.  He loved this community.  All he ever wanted to do his entire life was to make a difference, and I believe he did.”

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Leanore E Gallardo
Leanore E Gallardo (@guest_64911)
1 year ago

I would like to add that he exuded a gentleness that was out of the ordinary. I worked on two projects with him, 16 years apart, and it was the same both times. Quiet, calm, gentle. He designed a house for me that I still love immensely after 18 years.

Medardo Monzon
Medardo Monzon (@guest_64912)
1 year ago

My wife and I had the honor of working with John Cotner in several projects. He was a great architect and en exemplary human being dedicated to doing good deeds both at home and abroad. We miss him and will always remember him.

Jerry Torchis
Jerry Torchis(@agtorchia)
1 year ago

I had the honor of knowing John Cotner. He was truly a man to be admired and emulated. His passing is a tremendous loss to the whole community.

Alexandra Lajoux
Alexandra Lajoux (@guest_64924)
1 year ago
Reply to  Jerry Torchis

Agreed. He went out of his way to save trees while holding true to architectural and human values.

DAVID LOTT(@dave-l)
1 year ago

I also was privileged to know and work with John on the mission team projects at St. Peters as well as on several city committees. While John was soft spoken, when he did speak everyone paid close attention as we valued his thoughts and perspectives. The community certainly has lost a tremendous contributor in John’s passing. Thanks to his family for the sacrifices they made in allowing John the time away from home to make all these contributions.

Chris Dickinson
Chris Dickinson(@chris)
1 year ago

My husband and I had the honor of knowing John Cotner. What a positive effect he had on this Island. Keep your eyes open, and you’ll see plaques about the Island noting some of his many contributions. A profoundly good man. Our deepest sympathy to his family.

Perry Anthony
Perry Anthony (@guest_64939)
1 year ago

He was a wonderful human being and a great loss to our community.