Gary Wayne Cozzens, 62, of Nogal passed away Tuesday July 31, 2018. A Graveside Memorial Service will be held at the Capitan Cemetery on Tuesday, August 14 at 11:00 A.M.
Gary was born January 20, 1956 in Hobbs, New Mexico to L. C. and Mary Lou Cozzens who preceded him in death. Gary grew up in Portales, NM and graduated from Portales High School in 1974. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from Eastern New Mexico University. Upon graduation from Eastern, Gary was commissioned as an officer in the United States Marine Corps. During his 24 years as a Marine Infantry Officer, Gary rose to the rank of Major and served in numerous capacities but was especially honored to have served as Captain of 1st Battalion, 7th Marines – a unit Marines refer to as “Suicide Charley.” Among his military decorations were the Southwest Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Kuwait Liberation Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal and the Korean Defense Service Medal. Upon retirement, Gary returned to New Mexico and the Lincoln County area. He worked for many years in numerous capacities for the Region IX Education Cooperative. His love of the history of New Mexico prompted Gary to leave REC IX and assume the position as manager of the Lincoln Historic Site in Lincoln, NM. Gary retired from that position in 2016.
Gary loved to study history and to write about history. He has 3 published books regarding the Lincoln County Area – The Nogal Mesa, Capitan, and Tres Ritos. At the time of his death, he was working on a book recording the history of the many schools that have existed in Lincoln County – many of which are no longer in existence. He has also had articles appear in Marine Corps publications and various New Mexico history publications.
Gary is survived by his wife, Shirley Crawford, of the home. Their daughter Kristi Flores resides in Roswell with daughters Ridley and Audrianna. Also surviving Gary are sisters Glenda Sears of Flower Mound, TX, her husband Jeff and sons Jack and James; Gail Scott of Olney, TX, her husband Dickie and daughters Sydnee and Kodee; and Grace Moore of Rio Rancho, NM, her husband Mike and children Lauren and Shawn. Gary also shared a special relationship with his Uncle Doyle Cozzens of Roswell and cousin Bob Parsons of Dexter. Gary was blessed to have numerous cousins, aunts, uncles and special friends share his life. He will also be missed by his beloved Golden Retrievers Gus and Molly as well as the cat who was grudgingly tolerated.
For those wanting to make a special donation to honor Gary’s memory, the family requests that donations be made to the Semper Fi Fund. Website can be found at semperfifund.org
Though we did not see each other since the late 1980's, Gary and I kept in touch occasionally through the years. We served together in the Marine Corps (1982-83) and became life long friends. A good man, a great Marine and super intellect. His presence in my life and my memory of him make my world a better place.
Anthony L Jackson (Tony)Fallbrook, CA
Ana and I are deeply saddened and shocked by your loss. We only learned about it today. I wished we could have been there to say farewell and pay our respects. Gary will continue to be an unforgettable presence for his Marines as well as those in New Mexico who love their history.
Chris WrightRuidoso, NM
Gary was my company commander when I was with Suicide Charley. he was fair but firm, he loved the Marines he served with and would make sure we were doing well.
i had the pleasure a few years ago to get a personal tour of the Lincoln historical site with Gary. It was obvious his love of history and dedication.
Recently had dinner with Gary and Shirley at the Suicide Charley reunion, it was great to see him with his Marines and share old stories together.
Gary was a leader and mentor to many of us he will be dearly missed.
James JablonskiFINDLAY, OH
I was so saddened to learn of Gary's passing. I was one of two Marine Officer Selection Recruiters who enrolled Gary into Platoon Leaders Class Program. When he graduated from college in 1978, we commissioned him a Second Lieutenant and sent him off on active duty. I still have the Silver Dollar that Gary presented me for rendering him the first hand salute from an Enlisted Marine. After his retirement, Gary and I reconnected thru social media and resumed our great friendship. Had dinner with him and Shirley in Ruidoso just last year. Will certainly miss him immensely. My wife and I send our sincerest sympathy to Shirley and the rest of Gary's family. Rest in Peace, Marine. Semper Fidelis.
MSgt Humberto "Mike" Martinez USMC (Ret)Gilbert, AZ
Thoughts and prayers to Gary's family.
Gary was a great Historian for us here in Lincoln County and he will be greatly missed.
May you walk in sunshine always, Gary!!!!
Katherine Leann LaddRuidoso, NM
It was an honor to work with the best Skipper in the Corps. I’ll always remember you as a leader of Marines, brother of Suicide Charley, and best friend to his family.
Semper Fi devildog
Bobby VallesOdessa, TX
In life special people come along and enter our lives. Gary was indeed one of those.Your friendship will always be cherished and remembered.
Steve & Madeleine SaboNogal, NM
I was fortunate to have Gary as my Company Comnander in Suicide Charley. He led by example, loved the Corps, and he loved his Marines. He was a true gentleman and he will be missed by all of us who served with him. My prayers are with him, Shirley, and his family. Semper Fidelis and rest easy, Skipper.
Peter ZarconeWestminster, CA
I knew Gary from my time in the Marines. He was the “Skipper “. He was what a Marine Officer was supposed to be. Tough, smart and determined. He led from the front and loved his Marines in the way warriors love each other. His Marines respected him and loved him back. Semper Fi.
Marvin EstesHickory Creek, TX
Our deepest sympathies on the loss of a good man, honorable marine and great friend. Love and prayers to Shirley and his family.
Pam and Randy JonesTroup, TX
God Speed Sir, was my pleasure to meet you at the reunion.
Fair winds and calm seas on your journey Gary:)
Steven CooperWashington, DC
In memory of a man who was a gentleman, a true and kind friend, a man who deeply loved his wife, family (and dogs), a dedicated historian, and not least of all a proud Marine who always held the Corps close to his heart.
Herb and Chula MarshLincoln, NM
Semper Fi Gary! You will be missed on this earth!
Chris FleckColumbus, MT
Fly with the angels Gary, your work on earth is done. You are now pain free and whole again. You will be missed here by many, but we will always have our memories......Hugs and Prayers to Shirley and your family.
Debbie HeinekenRuidoso Downs, NM
Your in my thoughts and prayers. Sorry for your loss.
PeggyLake Havasu City, AZ
We were fortunate to have you as our Suicide Charley CO, Skipper. Your calm, quiet demeanor had a grace and dignity that garnered respect and was of a type I did not encounter with other CO’s. I am grateful that the Almighty afforded me the opportunity to reconnect with you the last few years and having the pleasure of your company at our recent reunion. Semper Fidelis.
Mark JohnstonYorba Linda, CA
Prayers for all the families. Gary will be missed but will remain in our hearts always.
Charlotte RowlandLevelland, TX
Jamie and I send our deepest sympathy on Gary's passing. Gary and I were friends for nearly 40 years, most of which, when we were in the Marine Corps. He was one of the most dedicated Marines I ever came across. He really was one of a kind. He will be missed and remembered with great admiration.
Chad and Jamie KirkleyEureka, MT
Rest easy Gary, you will be missed. I saw my very first college football game with you at ENMU when we were kids. Prayers to your family and your many friends. Thanks for your service to our country Gary.
Dave TestonBelton, TX