Dierks insurance firm changes hands

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    INSURANCE CHANGES. Aimee Sutton, left, and Martha Ruchalski of Landmark Insurance, and Cotton Cothren and Berneice Farley of Cothren Insurance.

    By Louie Graves

    News-Leader staff

    An insurance agency founded in Dierks in the 1940s is under new ownership.

    Martha Ruchalski of Landmark Insurance purchased the Archie Cothren Insurance Agency in May from Archie “Cotton” Cothren Jr.

    The Cothren agency was a Howard County area icon, led for many years by a well-known father-son pair.

    Archie Cothren Sr. was

    a POW in WWII, held by Germans in the famed Stalag 17. After the war, he purchased the agency from founder Joe Nobles. The senior Cothren was a long-serving member of the Howard County Quorum Court, and was a legend among Arkansas high school football officials. Son Cotton also played for the Outlaws and Ouachita Tigers. He built his own career in the agency, as a high school and college football official, and as a veteran member of both the Howard Memorial Hospital board of directors and on the Howard County Quorum Court. His wife, Holly, recently retired as superintendent of the Dierks school district.

    In the fall of 1969 Berneice Farley joined the Cothren agency and was a mainstay until her recent retirement.

    Ruchalski plans to keep the agency open three days a week. She started her own insurance career in 1984, working for the former Pike County Insurance. In 2014 she formed Landmark Insurance.

    “I have had two of my daughters work with me in the insurance business and while I still enjoy the  work I’m thankful to have my youngest daughter, Aimee Sutton, with me. She has more energy, is smarter with technology, and