The passing of Cot Campbell, a pioneer in the development of horse racing partnerships, caught my attention over the weekend. One might ask why? Yes, he was born in New Orleans, but he spent the majority of his life between Atlanta and a once sleepy little town called Aiken, South Carolina. That sleepy little town happens to be my birth home.
I met Cot and his wife Anne while serving as the president of my hometown United Way, United Way of Aiken County. Anne asked for a meeting to discuss an idea she had. A joint fundraising endeavor between the City of Aiken, Aiken Center for the Arts, and United Way of Aiken County modeled similar efforts in Saratoga Springs (NY), Louisville (KY) and Ocala (FL) involving life-size fiberglass horses that were to be decorated by artists and auctioned to the highest bidder. In our case, the funds would be used to support the Aiken Center for the Arts’ ArtPlay fund to provide scholarships to children and elderly to the Center’s arts programs. The fundraising endeavor, for which planning began early in 2002, was ultimately named HorsePlay.
But, the unique partnership led me to the fantastic opportunity to get to know Cot and his wonderful wife, Anne. To hear him speak and share the story of his life’s ups, downs, and ups would bring you both to tears of sadness and of laughter. Anne and Cot joined our local Tocqueville Society and shared their generosity with our United Way. And, through HorsePlay, we raised over $200,000 to fund ArtPlay. We did some great things together – things that made a difference.
I’ve been gone from Aiken for 14 years now. And, from time to time I would think about Cot and Anne. Especially when the Triple Crown came around. Cot was an interesting man that led an interesting life. Thankfully, much of his life was captured in books from which many lessons can be learned. While Cot’s death saddens me, I am thankful for the opportunity to have gotten to know him.
Rest In Peace Cot.