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Raymond H. Cottrell Sr.

Raymond H. Cottrell Sr.

Ray’s Ford Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram
Brandenburg, Kentucky

“Being blessed with a good business has allowed me to reinvest in my community, whether investing in playgrounds, youth sports, schools or programs for the elderly.”

“Being blessed with a good business has allowed me to reinvest in my community, whether investing in playgrounds, youth sports, schools or programs for the elderly,” nominee Cottrell said. “I’ve also been active in politics, allowing me to lobby for new roads, housing and park grants for my community.”

Cottrell attended John Marshall High School in Richmond, Virginia, before leaving school early to join the United States Army. “I entered the Virginia National Guard in May of 1949 at the age of 16 with a fake birth certificate,” he said. “I became active duty Army in July of 1950 and served in Korea, as well as two occupation tours in Germany and two tours in Vietnam.”

Cottrell retired in 1972 with the rank of command sergeant major and is a highly decorated disabled combat veteran, having received three Silver Stars; seven Bronze Stars (three for valor); three Air Medals (one for valor); two Combat Infantry Badges; six Commendation Medals (one with valor) and a Purple Heart when wounded in Vietnam. He has been honored with the highest award from the National Infantry Association, which is level Primicerius with Order of Saint Maurice.

After his distinguished military career, Cottrell began selling cars at Knox Ford in Muldraugh, Kentucky, in 1974. “The store was selling around 20 per month, but I started sending mailers welcoming new arrivals to Fort Knox and began to average 31 per month,” he said. He had a knack for the retail automotive business and opened a used-car lot in 1977, then founded Ray’s Ford Inc. in 1979. His son, Ray Jr., has been involved in the dealership since its inception.

Cottrell is a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW); Disabled American Veterans (DAV); Association of the United States Army (AUSA); National Council on Aging (NCOA); and has been the commander of the American Legion post in Brandenburg for 52 years.

In 1998, Cottrell blocked the sale of the youth baseball field to a developer to save it for the local children, his most meaningful civic achievement. “The local school board auctioned the elementary school in Brandenburg and the property included the Little League ball field,” he explained. “The Little League association was bidding and it went out of their price range. I was a spectator, and I purchased the property and leased it to them for 50 years for one dollar.”

Cottrell was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Gay Williams, president of the Kentucky Automobile Dealers Association. He and his wife, Lovell, have two children and seven grandchildren.