Comer Cottrell was born on December 7, 1931, in Mobile, Alabama. He was 15 when he graduated from a private high school in 1946 and attended the University of Detroit, a Jesuit college. At age seventeen, Mr. Cottrell joined the United States Air Force and exceled to the rank of First Sergeant at a very young age. After completing his military service, Cottrell returned to Alabama, where he worked part time for his father’s insurance company.In 1968, Mr. Cottrell recalled his time serving in the U.S. Air Force and the lack of ethnic hair-care products, which sparked his interest in the black hair care business. In 1970, starting with a modest investment of $600 and broken typewriter, Mr. Cottrell and his brother James Cottrell founded Pro-Line Corporation, an African-American hair care products company. He and his brother built a multi-million dollar empire that forever changed and revolutionized the hair care industry.Due to the growing business’ success, Comer expanded his sharp business acumen across multiple industries to create jobs and opportunities for African Americans and others that might not have existed.Mr. Cottrell often said, “I value the ‘Golden rule’ above all other principles. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. This was his guiding principle as he soared to even greater success.He was the ultimate entrepreneur and always recognized a good investment. Mr. Cottrell became the first African American to become part owner of a major sports franchise, the Texas Rangers ball club. He was very instrumental in making that organization one of the most profitable in Major League Baseball.
A philanthropist at heart, in 1990, he purchased and restored the 131-acre historical Black institution Bishop College and renamed it, Paul Quinn College. Mr. Cottrell once said, “I would ask myself why me? Why have I been given so much Lord? I believe God knew that I would give back as much as I had been given to those he put in my path.”
Mr. Cottrell served on numerous boards including – the NAACP, National Urban League, YMCA, Dallas Family Hospital, Better Business Bureau, Compton College Foundation, the Texas Board Of Cosmetology, Paul Quinn College, Baylor University Foundation, and Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce.
Mr. Cottrell’s life and career has been celebrated and honored by presidents, mayors, governors, celebrities, sports figures and international dignitaries. He has impacted generations of African Americans and his legacy is timeless and will impact generations to come.