Cotton Burden’s family moved to Boulder County in 1963, and following graduation from Fairview High School, Cotton enlisted in the Navy. He served for four years as an aircrewman on P-3 Orions at various Pacific duty stations, and was awarded the Vietnam Service Medal. He met his wife Joy while stationed at Moffett Field Naval Air Station in Mountainview, CA.

Following his stint in the Navy, Cotton graduated magna cum laude from the Leeds School of Business, and went on to receive his law degree from CU. After thirteen years in the private practice of law, he shifted his focus to create Burden Incorporated, a family-owned real estate investment and development company.

Cotton and Joy have two children and four grandchildren and will be celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary this year. He has been very active supporting Niwot schools and athletics, has served on several boards and committees, including, as co-chair, the Boulder County Bar Association Business and Banking Committee, and he and Joy created the Burden Family Fund within the Longmont Community Foundation.