One Year Later: Larry Cotlar’s Legacy

DES MOINES, Iowa — It’s been one year since Des Moines’ beloved sportscaster, Larry Cotlar, was killed when he was swept from his van during flash floods.

Better known as “The Cotman,” Cotlar was the voice of Drake University’s basketball team, hosted a weekly sports telecast and helped with the Barnstormer’s radio.

But to his loved ones, he was so much more than the legendary announcer.

“There was just so much energy that he brought,” his wife, Deb Brewer-Cotlar, said.

On Sunday, friends and families gathered for a day of remembrance on the anniversary of Cotlar’s death.

Brewer-Cotlar said she’s had unbelievable support from the community in the past year.

“From that night and to this day people have been just so kind,” she said.

This wasn’t surprising to her, given how much her husband loved his community.

“The legacy that I want people to know and remember is the love that he had for this community and how giving he was,” Brewer-Cotlar said. “I hope that I can in some measure continue to support the organizations that he so dearly loved.”

Although sports were his main passion, it was when he was off-the-air helping others that he felt the most fulfilled.

“He was really terrific and worked for so many non-profits organizations, volunteering his services. Was just a vital part of the community and just a tragedy that we lost him,” said Larry Morgan, a colleague and friend.

His wife said once in awhile, her husband will pay her a special visit, especially if it’s a sporting event.

The night of the [Barnstormer’s] championship game last year I wore a heart that he gave me for Mother’s Day that talks about ‘forever in my heart,'” Brewer-Cotlar said. “And throughout that whole game last year I just kept holding it, I kept talking to him and saying ‘OK, we need this touchdown.’ So he was there.”

When it comes to what Cotlar’s legacy is, his loved ones said it’s simple: kindness and love.

He was a very nice guy, never wanted people to recognize him, never wanted to be a star,” Morgan said. “Just wanted to be nice guy and do his job.”

Dozens came to remember Cotlar on Sunday, sharing memories and laughter, like his wife said he would have wanted.

“We’ve all had a story to share about Larry,” she said. We’ve all had ways in which he has touched our lives.”