Athens, Ga. – James “Jim” R. Cothran, an adjunct professor in the University of Georgia College of Environment and Design and vice president of Robert and Company, died Jan. 29 after a brief battle with lung cancer. Cothran was a respected landscape architect, horticulturalist and historic gardens preservationist.
“Jim was serving currently on the dean’s advisory council here at the College of Environment and Design and had just finished teaching his popular class in Southern garden history this past fall semester,” said Dan Nadenicek, dean of the College of Environment and Design. “His passing has been a shock to all of us, and we will be recognizing in depth his contributions to the disciplines of landscape architecture and garden history in the coming weeks. He will be greatly missed by the faculty, staff and student body of the CED.”
The funeral service will be held Feb. 2 at 10 a.m. in the Cathedral of Christ the King located at 2699 Peachtree Road in Atlanta. A memorial reception will be held in his honor on Feb. 3 from 3-5 p.m. in the Cherokee Garden Library at the Atlanta History Center. In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be made in Cothran’s memory to the UGA Foundation: Founders Memorial Garden Endowment or to the Cherokee Garden Library.
In addition to serving on the dean’s council and teaching, Cothran was the author of three books and numerous articles. His books include “Gardens of Historic Charleston” (1995) and “Gardens and Historic Plants of the Antebellum South” (2003). His book “Charleston Gardens and the Landscape Legacy of Loutrel Briggs” was published by the University of South Carolina Press in 2010.
Cothran graduated with a master of landscape architecture from UGA in 1968 and was awarded the CED Alumni Association’s Medal of Honor in 2006. He held a bachelor’s degree in ornamental horticulture from Clemson University and a master’s degree in city planning from the Georgia Institute of Technology. With more than 30 years experience in all aspects of urban and regional planning, landscape architecture, site planning and historic preservation for clients throughout the Southeast, Cothran was both a design professional and a scholar.
Cothran served as a member of the Atlanta Urban Design Commission, the Atlanta Tree Preservation Review Board, the Atlanta Tree Commission and the Atlanta Botanical Garden. He was a board member of the Cherokee Garden Library and the Alliance for Historic Landscape Preservation at the time of his death. Recently, he served as president of the Southern Garden History Society. He was also a founding member of Trees Atlanta and a member of its board of directors since its inception in 1980.
In addition, Cothran was instrumental in establishing the Garden Club of Georgia’s Historic House and Garden Pilgrimage/Grant Program, which has awarded more than 40 grants for various landscape preservation projects since 1996. He was serving as the Historic American Building Survey liaison for the Georgia Chapter ASLA and the American Society of Landscape Architects.
Since 1981, Cothran served as vice president of the planning and landscape architecture division of Robert and Company, an architectural, engineering and planning firm in Atlanta. Other teaching duties included serving as a professional instructor in the National Garden Clubs Inc. landscape design study program since 1970.
A native of South Carolina, Cothran is survived by his wife Lynn and their daughter Caroline and her family.
To make a donation to the Founders Memorial Garden Endowment in memory of Jim Cothran, see the College of Environment and Design’s website at www.ced.uga.edu. Click the red “donate” button, and choose the appropriate fund. If you prefer to mail your donation, please make checks out to UGAF and send it to UGAF: Founders Memorial Garden Endowment, c/o Stephanie Crockatt, 603 Caldwell Hall, College of Environment and Design, University of Georgia, Athens, Ga. 30602-1845.