ENGLISHTOWN – Following tradition, a young man from Englishtown has become the 19th member of his family and the 15th individual on his mother’s side to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout.
Darius James Cotter, 18, a homeschooled student who is concluding his high school education with Seton Homestudy School, was advanced to the rank of Eagle Scout during a Court of Honor ceremony held on June 10.
Darius is a member of Troop 155, Freehold Township, which is chartered by the West Freehold School PTO. He has been involved with the Boy Scouts of America since 2008.
Darius, who is the son of Hilary and Miriam Cotter, joins 14 of his maternal relatives and four of his paternal relatives in reaching the highest rank in the Boy Scouts. He has two brothers in Troop 155 who are currently Life Scouts, which is the second highest rank in the Boy Scouts.
According to the young man’s parents, his family’s history with the Boy Scouts dates back to his maternal grandparents, Al and Charlotte Simon. Five of Darius’ uncles on his mother’s side became Eagle Scouts, which led to nine of his maternal cousins achieving the rank. The tradition spread to his father’s side and the Eagle Scouts were joined by four of Darius’ paternal cousins.
Fellow Eagle Scouts in Darius’ family include his uncle Daniel D. Simon Sr. of Freehold Township and Daniel’s sons Daniel Jr., Jacob, Kyle and Zachary; and his uncle Michael J. Simon of Colts Neck and Michael’s sons Michael E. and Steven.
Darius joined the Boy Scouts on the advice of his father, Hilary, and began to develop an appreciation for the organization and for what he was learning and achieving.
“What I now consider an inspiration was extended family, both on my mom’s and dad’s side, who are very involved in scouting,” the young man said. “Scouting goes all the way back to my grandfather in my family.”
For his Eagle Scout project, Darius painted and improved an unfinished deck on a gazebo at the Monroe Village Senior Living community in neighboring Monroe Township, where he and his sister, Angela, work as wait staff.
According to Darius, the deck was stained/finished, two new benches were built, five planter boxes were installed, and potted mums and azaleas were placed around the deck.
“My inspiration behind the project was for the residents to have a nice place to hang out outside and enjoy the weather, and for them to be able to plant flowers in the planter boxes, which are mounted to the railings,” he said. “The mounted planter boxes will be easier for the residents to garden in as opposed to getting down on their hands and knees.”
As Darius continues his family’s tradition, his parent spoke highly of their son and his accomplishment.
“We are incredibly proud of Darius’ achievements,” Hilary Cotter said. “Darius’ scouting achievements are largely due to Darius’ maternal grandparents, Al and Charlotte Simon. Al and Charlotte raised seven amazing children; all seven are very active community leaders and all are raising the next generation of leaders.
“Scouting was and is a large part of that formation,” he said. “We are looking forward over the next few years to five more additional extended Simon family Eagle scouts.”
“Boy Scouting was always a very proud tradition in my [Simon] family as I was growing up,” Miriam Cotter said. “My five brothers were very dedicated to the Boy Scouts and I recall many a summer when we brought them to or from summer camp. I remember helping out on their Eagle Projects, too.
“Then suddenly, there was a new generation of boys in the family and my nephews began to achieve this honorable rank themselves,” she said. “Through my marriage to Hilary Cotter, we even saw four of our nephews on his side of the family, all brothers [the Forbes family], receive the Eagle Scout rank. Later, my brother, Dan, would see his four sons also become Eagle scouts.
“Finally, in 2017, it was our turn to have an Eagle Scout of our own,” Miriam said. “When the date had been set for Darius’s Eagle Board of Review, I began to think about all of the Eagle scouts in my family and realized that Darius would be the 15th. For such a milestone, I decided to invite my parents to be present on that momentous evening.
“We are delighted and very proud to have Darius follow in the footsteps of his uncles and cousins, and we are looking forward to the advancement of our other two sons in the next year or so. We are truly honored to have Darius counted among the rather small percentage of Boy Scouts who have managed to achieve the rank of Eagle,” she said.
Darius also found strong value in his accomplishment.
“I am just so honored and proud of achieving the rank of Eagle Scout,” he said, “and I am even more honored and proud of the fact that I am the 19th Eagle in my family, the 15th Eagle on my mom’s side and the fifth Eagle on my dad’s side. Being an Eagle Scout makes you stand out from the crowd. It comes with a reputation of hard work, honesty, cheerfulness and so much more.”