William Wayne Cotanch, MD

December 21, 1932 ~ November 12, 2023 (age 90) 90 Years Old

William Cotanch, MD Obituary

William (Bill) Wayne Cotanch, born December 21, 1932, passed peacefully at home on November 12,2023, with loving family by his side. 

William is survived by his life partner of more than 35 years, Robert F. Barnish; son, Kurt Cotanch (Cheryl Morse); Kurt's mother, Margaret Cotanch; brother, Robert Cotanch; niece, Carlei Regan (Ryan and daughter, Charlotte); nephew, Bryan Cotanch (Natalie and children, Emma and Rowan); and by Robert's sister, Susan Kunzmann (William) and brother, James Barnish. He was predeceased by his parents; sister, Lynn; and infant brother, David. 

Bill was born to George and Frances (Gill) Cotanch of Fond du Lac, WI.  Son of a railroad mechanic, Bill attended the University of Wisconsin where he earned his undergraduate degree, and in 1958, his medical degree. He was a member of Delta-Tau-Delta. William interned at Mary Fletcher Hospital Burlington, Vermont, 1958-59. There, he met Margaret, a pediatric nurse. They married in 1960 and their son, Kurt William, was born in 1961. From 1959-62, Dr. Cotanch served in the Navy as a flight surgeon at McGuire Air Force base. In 1962 William and family returned to Madison where he completed his residency in neurosurgery at University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

In 1967, Bill took a position as neurosurgeon in Rochester NY, where he practiced at Rochester General and Genesee Hospitals and held a teaching position at Strong Memorial. Highly regarded for his surgical skills, professionalism and caring, he was beloved by patients, hospital staff, nurses, and fellow surgeons.

Bill may be most remembered for his passion for life, music, art, entertaining and cuisine. He took to music early in life, learning piano, playing for children’s dance classes, joining choirs and choral groups, and directing the med school chorals. Bill sang with numerous choral groups, and he especially enjoyed opera and Bach as well as Lawrence Welk. He played a range of instruments, including the piano and often hosted students from Eastman School of Music. He was fond of cooking, especially for others. The arts-crafts, gardening, and flower-arranging--came naturally to him. 

Bill’s character filled the room with wit, wisdom, and boisterous banter. His life was a banquet, filled with bouquets and a bounty of friends, a truly eclectic mix. He was a wonderful father, son-in-law, companion and friend.

A talented boy with rural roots, he made the most of life: skilled hands and sharp mind; humble yet firm; open hearted and open house; glitter and glam; exuberance and flare; bow ties and boas; binge knitting and boisterous baking; piano and song. Plumage too gaudy? Never, add more! More blossoms, more color, more laughs, more joy; he shared with all, graciously, patiently, generously. As he would say, “It is now time to go, so… say  goodbye.”  

We extend a huge thanks and gratitude to all the friends and caregivers who cared for Bill, above and beyond.

A celebration of life is planned for Spring 2024. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Rochester Oratorio Society, 1050 East Ave, Rochester NY 14607. 

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of William Wayne Cotanch, MD, please visit our floral store.

Friends and family have shared their relationship to show their support.
How do you know William Wayne Cotanch, MD?
We are sorry for your loss.
Help others honor William's memory.


You can still show your support by sending flowers directly to the family, or by planting a memorial tree in the memory of William Wayne Cotanch, MD

© 2023 Crawford Funeral Home. All Rights Reserved. Funeral Home website by CFS & TA | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Accessibility