John Cotton*, 1969 president of the 88,000 member National Association of Real Estate Boards, and his father together shared more than 100 years of real estate experience.
Mr. Cotton led the way in his presidency by calling for affirmative action to provide jobs for minorities. In his inaugural address he asked members to open the doors for the oppressed by creating part-time jobs, finding housing for the disadvantaged and taking steps to insure that good, affordable housing was available. Likewise, he urged REALTORS® and others to become involved in the Make America Better program, realizing that “in order to build a better society, we must first start with a better man.” Later that year, President Nixon praised the Make America Better program as “an example worthy of imitation…the enthusiastic response it enjoys from member boards is most heartening for all who are involved in the work of urban progress.”
Hurricane Camille powerfully struck the Mississippi Gulf Coast during Mr. Cotton’s term, destroying nearly 6,000 homes on a 27-mile stretch. Mr. Cotton responded by immediately flying to the storm site and mobilizing REALTORS® to aid in the recovery effort by assisting owners of destroyed structures in applications for disaster relief. He also helped prepare a REALTOR® manual to be used as a guide in catastrophes such as Camille.
Mr. Cotton led a vigorous battle against some government-proposed tax reforms, which he said would discourage commercial and industrial investment and, in turn, hurt the real estate industry. His year-long efforts culminated in a final “softening” of the original tax reform proposals.
During Mr. Cotton’s term, NAREB called for the formation of a mass transportation fund aimed at granting loans for the acquisition of land and equipment for mass transit systems. “The lack of an adequate mass transportation system represents a most formidable obstacle to solving the problems of the city, “Mr. Cotton said.
The office of first vice president of NAREB was established under Mr. Cotton’s direction to better prepare the candidate for the Association’s presidency. Also during the year, the Committee on Long Range Planning projected its vast changes in the real estate business, specifically in influx of large corporations in real estate. “It would be unfortunate if real estate were to become a corporate enterprise, devoid of the personal, individualized, professional client-agent relationship that REALTORS® have been developing,” the report said. “The decision is up to us.”
Mr. Cotton’s service to many associations brought his name to the attention of Governor Ronald Reagan, who appointed him to the California Real Estate Commission. He held high offices at the local, state and national REALTOR® levels. He also worked with such civic groups as the San Diego and California Apartment Associations. He received international recognition with the 1968 Distinguished Service Award from the International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI), serving as president of the American Chapter of FIABCI in 1973 and deputy world president from 1978-79. He was awarded the 1975 Bronze medal of the City of Paris.
In addition, he is a member of the American Institute of Real Estate Appraisers, the American Society of Real Estate Counselors, the REALTORS® National Marketing Institute and the Institute of Real Estate Management, serving each as either a vice president, a member of the governing board, or both.
Source: Presidents of the National Association of REALTORS®, (Chicago: NAR, 1980).