Bob Cottor, MD

It is with deep sadness that we announce the death of Robert “Bob” Cottor, MD, on November 7, 2022. Bob was deeply dedicated to the Taos Institute community, and faithfully served on its Board of Directors from 2003 to 2016. Bob and his wife Sharon were participants in the very first Taos conference in 1992 and hold the record for participating in the most Taos events of anyone outside the Founders. While serving on the Board, Bob’s warmth and enthusiasm were unfailing, and his council on difficult decisions was wise and considered. We shall miss him deeply and treasure his memory.

Bob was actively involved with the Taos Institute since its inception in 1993 and became a Taos Associate in 1996. He was appointed as an Advisor to the Taos Board of Directors in 1999 and then joined the Board as a Member in 2003. Bob received his medical education and training as a child and adolescent psychiatrist at the University of Minnesota. At the completion of the child psychiatric training in 1966, he specialized in Community and Family Psychiatry. He practiced in Minnesota, California and Arizona. Bob focused on family therapy, consultation to healthcare organizations and collaborative care in his practice. He developed a specialty in forensic psychiatry regarding divorcing families, their irresolvable conflicts and their custody issues. He also became a consultant to family businesses regarding their family and business relationships and their generational succession issues.

Bob partnered with his wife, Sharon Cottor, MSW, in a joint professional practice when they moved to Phoenix, Arizona, in 1971. His work emphasized collaboration, positive living, positive aging, relationship enrichment, a strong focus on the future and, overall, effectively creating meaningful change. Bob and Sharon founded the Institute for Creative Change in Phoenix in 1980 to provide a forum for practicing professionals to explore and create effective change practices in their work with individuals, couples, families and organizations. Throughout his years in practice, Bob has taught and trained a large number of mental health professionals as well as professionals from other disciplines in a constructionist, collaborative, appreciative and relational approach to creative change.

Bob and Sharon co-authored a chapter, Relational Inquiry and Relational Responsibility: The Practice of Change, in the book Relational Responsibility: Resources for Sustainable Dialogue edited by Sheila McNamee and Ken Gergen and published by Sage in 1998. Bob also co-authored the book Experiential Learning Exercises in Social Construction published by the Taos Institute in 2004.

Bob closed his psychiatric and forensic practice in 2007 after 45 years of clinical work. He received a special citation for Outstanding Contributions to the Field from the Arizona Association of Marriage and Family Therapy in 1992. He also received an Award for Significant Contribution to Family Law from the Arizona Association of Family and Conciliation Courts in February 2008.

Bob continued to consult with businesses and organizations seeking creative and effective change. His primary interest was healthcare policy and practice. He also become involved in the emerging field of pediatric palliative care and family respite care. The Cottor family, in 2004, founded Ryan House, a nonprofit healthcare provider in Phoenix that now offers an innovative collaborative/appreciative program of pediatric palliative care, family respite care and end-of-life care in a free-standing home-like facility built for families with children with life limiting illnesses and conditions. Ryan House is a legacy honoring Bob’s grandson Ryan.