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GOD & TEXAS: Owaissa the Bluebird

George Washington Cottle fought and died in the Battle of the Alamo in 1836. At the young age of 25, Cottle left behind a wife and three children. He was one of the “Immortal 32,” the reinforcements from the town of Gonzales who sneaked into the Alamo just days before the historic battle.

Born in Missouri in 1811, Cottle came to Texas in 1829 with his parents who settled in Green DeWitt’s colony. He fought in the Battle of Gonzales and died protecting the Alamo ammunition room. Cottle County, near Lubbock, is named after George, and his name is inscribed with the other defenders on the Alamo Cenotaph.

Not long before her death, Josephine Owaissa Cottle stated in the book, “Forever Texas,” that she was related to Cottle. She wrote that her “great, great uncle George Washington Cottle died in the Alamo.” She was proud of this family heritage, and spoke of it often during her lengthy career in Hollywood.

Born April 5, 1922, in Bloomington, Texas, Josephine was raised by her widowed mother who struggled to feed her five children. Josephine’s middle name “Owaissa” was given to her by her sister Lois and was the Native American word for “bluebird.” In high school, Josephine excelled in music and dance, and at 17 won a national CBS Radio contest. First prize was a movie studio contract and the new stage name, Gail Storm.

Storm earned three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contributions to television, recordings, and radio. Known for her wholesome roles, Storm is best remembered for her television series “My Little Margie,” and the “Gale Storm Show.” As a recording artist, she earned a gold record for “I Hear You Knocking,” and other pop hits. Storm played opposite Roy Rogers in three films, and was featured with other stars like Jackie Cooper, Don DeFore, and Eddie Albert.

When Gail Storm died at 87 in 2009, she had been married twice and widowed twice. She and her first husband Lee Bonnell, had four children, Phillip, Peter, Paul, and Susie, eight grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. But her flourishing public image hid a heartbreaking private life that she revealed in her book, “I Ain’t Down Yet.”

During the '70s, Storm battled alcoholism. She wrote, “I was the star of my own cornball B movie, and suddenly it turned into a horror story.” Eventually she found recovery through her faith in God and a hospital aversion-therapy program. The rest of her life was spent encouraging others to escape the grip of alcoholism.

As a committed Christian, Storm taught Sunday School and youth groups at Hollywood-Beverly Christian Church. Later, she became an active member of South Shores Church in Dana Point, California. Storm was remembered for saying, “Life has been good and I thank God for His many blessings and the happy life He has given to me.”

People have their struggles (Romans 3:23). Be patient and pray for others. As it says in Philippians 2:4 NLT, “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”

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