Mr. Wendell “Cotton” Aytes, age 83 of Rockwood, went home to be with the Lord on Wednesday, November 15, 2023, at the Spring City Care & Rehab. He was born on November 11, 1940, in Ozone, Tennessee. He was one of 11 children. He got his first job at the age of 12, working in a sawmill, after quitting school to help take care of his family. At the age of 13, he was driving a logging truck for work.
Mr. Aytes joined the Marine Corp. on November 1, 1957. He attended basic training at Parris Island, South Carolina. While in the Marines, he was an infantry soldier in Okinawa, Japan, was an MP, and was involved in Force RECON. He also served at Camp Lejeune until his honorable discharge on March 22, 1962.
On October 11, 1959, he married his sweetheart, Linda Abston. They were married for 61 years. During that time, he had several jobs, including driving a milk truck, a school bus for Cumberland County Schools, and a coal truck. He went on the become a freight trucker driving from the 1970’s until his retirement in the late 1990’s. In his trucking career, he drove over a million miles all over the United States without a single accident. Out of all the companies he worked for, his favorite and the one he was most proud of was Averitt Express, whom he drove for a total of 10+ years.
In his 40’s, he obtained his GED. After his retirement, he was a self-taught carpenter, building porches and other small jobs for others. He loved building, especially when he was repairing or remodeling his own home. He worked with his hands until he was too sick to do it anymore.
He enjoyed watching old westerns and war movies. He loved any movie about the military. He was a huge Dale Earnhardt fan, and had many collector’s items of his iconic black #3 car. He also loved the Dallas Cowboys and never missed a game on TV.
He loved buying and trading vehicles, had a great singing voice, and loved listening to gospel music. His two favorite hymns were “O Come, Angel Band” and “I’ll Fly Away”. He is of the Baptist denomination and professed his love of the Lord and his salvation in Christ in April 2022. His main goal in life was to provide for his family, and he exceeded that goal in many ways. He loved his family and always helped his kids and grandkids.
He is preceded in death by his wife and “sweetheart”: Linda Aytes; parents: R. A. “Fate” Aytes & Nealie Aytes; brothers: Charles, John, Alvin, Larry, Avery Porter; sisters: Clara, Leona, Evelyn, and June.
He is survived by:
Daughters: Lisa Ingram (Rolland)
Wendy McElhaney (Michael)
Donna Ingram (Robin)
Grandchildren: Amanda, Stephanie, Cody, Jamie, Taylor, Jesse, Ashley, Sara, & Lucas
Special granddaughter: Sharon
13 Great Grandchildren
Sister: Catherine Bonham
The family will receive friends on Saturday, November 18, 2023, from 1:00-2:00 pm ET at Evans Mortuary in Rockwood. Funeral service will follow at 2:00 pm ET. A graveside service will held in the Lingo Cemetery in the Westel community of Rockwood, TN, with full military honors presented by the U.S. Marine Honor Guard and the Roane County Military Memorial Honor Guard. Evans Mortuary is serving the family of Mr. Wendell “Cotton” Aytes.