Suicide victims shared heart, wife

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HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. --- Terry Cottle and Sonny Graham never met, but the two men shared two very important things --- a heart and a wife.

They also died the same way: Mr. Cottle, 12 years ago from a self-inflicted gunshot wound at the Summerville home he shared with his wife, Cheryl; Mr. Graham, 69, died the same way last week outside his Vidalia, Ga., home that he shared with his wife, Cheryl.

When Mr. Cottle died at age 33, his organs were donated. Mr. Graham got Mr. Cottle's heart and nine years later, he married Mr. Cottle's widow.

Georgia Bureau of Investigation special agent Greg Harvey told The (Hilton Head) Island Packet that Mr. Graham was found Tuesday in a utility building in his backyard with a single gunshot wound to the throat. The former golf tournament director had used a shotgun and no foul play was suspected in his death, Mr. Harvey said.

Mr. Graham, who was director of the Heritage golf tournament at Sea Pines from 1979 to 1983, was on the verge of congestive heart failure in 1995 when he got a call that a heart was available in Charleston.

That heart was from Terry Cottle, who had been put on life support after shooting himself so his organs could be donated, Berkeley County Coroner Glenn Rhoad said.

Grateful for his new heart, Mr. Graham began writing letters to the donor's family to thank them. In January 1997, Mr. Graham and Cheryl Cottle, then 28, met in Charleston.

"I felt like I had known her for years," Mr. Graham told The Island Packet in 2006. "I couldn't keep my eyes off her. I just stared."

In 2001, Mr. Graham bought a home for Mrs. Cottle and her four children in Vidalia. Three years later, they were married after Mr. Graham retired from his job as a plant manager for Hargray Communications in Hilton Head.

From their previous marriages, the couple had six children and six grandchildren across South Carolina and Georgia.

Cheryl Graham, now 39, has worked at several hospices in Vidalia. A telephone message left Sunday at a listing for Cheryl and Sonny Graham in Vidalia was not immediately returned.

Sonny Graham's friends said he will be remembered for his helping people.

"Any time someone had a problem, the first reaction was, 'Call Sonny Graham,' " said Bill Carson, Mr. Graham's friend for more than 40 years. "It didn't matter whether you had a flat tire on the side of the road or your washing machine didn't work. He didn't even have to know you to help you."

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pablanco
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pablanco 04/07/08 - 02:02 am
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very strange.

very strange.

TakeAstand
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TakeAstand 04/07/08 - 02:15 am
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no doubt

no doubt

truetolife
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truetolife 04/07/08 - 04:27 am
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Mr. Cottle GOD bless the

Mr. Cottle GOD bless the dead, his heart must have shown her some real love , becuse she couldn't let go.

EdithPiaf
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EdithPiaf 04/07/08 - 05:30 am
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I wonder if he had a history

I wonder if he had a history of depression...? This should be investigated more.

christian134
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christian134 04/07/08 - 08:12 am
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Good grief this is

Good grief this is ....wow...weird....

Opinionated
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Opinionated 04/07/08 - 08:28 am
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If you ask me there's a

If you ask me there's a little more than a heart and wife shared. It seems a little out of whack.

sassy-mama
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sassy-mama 04/07/08 - 08:43 am
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The heart is the seat of

The heart is the seat of motivation. When a heart is received by someone else, the recipient takes on some of the traits of the other person.

sassy-mama

WhatNow
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WhatNow 04/07/08 - 10:03 am
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This has the makings for an

This has the makings for an A&E movie. Sad, that a donated heart was wasted on someone who ended up taking their own life. Suicide, such a selfish act.

christian134
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christian134 04/07/08 - 10:44 am
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It is perhaps the most

It is perhaps the most selfish of acts WhatNow I agree totally...perhaps that in the end is why I never succeeded....something inside kept me from taking it the ultimate final step..For me that something was calling on the Lord Jesus and submitting my all to Him...Since that time life is still a struggle at times but it is awhole lot better with Jesus leading the way. Plus I now have a grandchild....It is better to survive and see what's next than dead and not of had the opportunity of holding that child in my arms....:-)

arue
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arue 04/07/08 - 11:25 am
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I think that there is more to

I think that there is more to this story... I kinda smell something fishy....

nems
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nems 04/07/08 - 11:33 am
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Cheryl drove two men to

Cheryl drove two men to suicide.

devilishlymad67
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devilishlymad67 04/07/08 - 11:58 am
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Dude that is the most crudest

Dude that is the most crudest heartless thing a person could say. YOU don't know anything more then what the paper is saying. How dare you state that she "drove" them to suicide. Suicide is a personal selfish act. The only person ever brought peace is the person who is dead. The spouse and the children and friends all spend the rest of their life wondering why didn't they see it, why couldn't they help. Stupid people I hope you never have to be the survivor of such a thing but if you are I hope the world shows you more compassion then what you are showing.

S.C. Dawg
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S.C. Dawg 04/07/08 - 12:16 pm
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He was 69. She was 39. I

He was 69. She was 39. I smell a rat.

CoastalDawg
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CoastalDawg 04/07/08 - 01:11 pm
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There's no rat to be smelled

There's no rat to be smelled here. I'm a bit familiar with the circumstances, had notification of the death through friends shortly after he was discovered, then had notification that the death had been ruled an accident. This newspaper story doesn't address that and I'm not certain if that has actually been the case. BUT there has been documentation over the past several years that recipients of major organs from a donor often take on the characteristics of that donor. In the case studies which I've read one recipient who had no interest in friend chicken prior to the transplant found it to be a favorite afterwards and another who never drank beer craved it after the transplant. Both donors had enjoyed the aforementioned prior to their deaths. It is believed that those major organs have a memory of their prior "owners" much like the brain remembers things. If that is the case, there is no mystery here at all in what happened although it is a sad situation. So leave this wife alone - she's devastated to have gone through the same situation TWICE, as far as those who know her know through no fault of her own. So back off some of your quick conclusions.

SunDown
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SunDown 04/07/08 - 02:33 pm
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This case is strange but I

This case is strange but I don't know if you can rightfully attribute what this man did to himself to what the previous owner of the heart did to himself. I admit that there are all sorts of things that we don't know or have a hard time understanding but I'm not sure about the heart "having a memory." I'm not saying that it is not possible (or an interesting concept), I'm just saying that it is much more likely just a strange and sad coincidence. Also, "The heart is the seat of motivation" comment was something that I have never heard. Speaking for myself, my motivation has always been based on available options and possible rewards... both contained in my brain. Still... lots of interesting comments here.

hoghead
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hoghead 04/07/08 - 02:57 pm
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Yall hold on now, she ant got

Yall hold on now, she ant got nothin to do with this cause you all no you cant collect on insurance if you kill your self well i hope she new that??

lady4jesus
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lady4jesus 04/07/08 - 03:43 pm
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I am sorry for this lady's

I am sorry for this lady's lost. My mom's boyfriend killed himself a few years ago. I just thank God that he didn't killed my mom. We don't suppose to judge people. In the Bible it states who never ever sin throw the first stone. As we judge her husbands death and the age between them who is ready to throw the first stone. Newspapers, reporters don't always have their straight neither so be careful of what you read and investigate the situation first if you want to judge.

lady4jesus
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lady4jesus 04/07/08 - 03:52 pm
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You know we are so quick to

You know we are so quick to judge people because of what others have to say. We're not to judge other people. In the Bible it say who has not sinned let them throw the first stone. Just because we read what is in the paper or hear it on the news it doesn't mean that they are correct neither. The age of the person it doesn't mean anything anymore. I feel the pain that has happened here. My mom's boyfriend killed himself a few years ago. His family wanted my mom to be investigated for this action but the cops already seen their evidence and I Thank GOD that he didn't kill her. So family and friend hold your heads up and may GOD BE WITH YOU.

lady4jesus
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lady4jesus 04/07/08 - 03:52 pm
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You know we are so quick to

You know we are so quick to judge people because of what others have to say. We're not to judge other people. In the Bible it say who has not sinned let them throw the first stone. Just because we read what is in the paper or hear it on the news it doesn't mean that they are correct neither. The age of the person it doesn't mean anything anymore. I feel the pain that has happened here. My mom's boyfriend killed himself a few years ago. His family wanted my mom to be investigated for this action but the cops already seen their evidence and I Thank GOD that he didn't kill her. So family and friend hold your heads up and may GOD BE WITH YOU.

lady4jesus
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lady4jesus 04/07/08 - 03:52 pm
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I am sorry for this lady's

I am sorry for this lady's lost. My mom's boyfriend killed himself a few years ago. I just thank God that he didn't killed my mom. We don't suppose to judge people. In the Bible it states who ever never sin throw the first stone. As we judge her husbands death and the age between them who is ready to throw the first stone. Newspapers, reports don't always have their straight neither so be careful of what you read and investigate the situation first if you want to judge.

lady4jesus
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lady4jesus 04/07/08 - 03:53 pm
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I am sorry for this lady's

I am sorry for this lady's lost. My mom's boyfriend killed himself a few years ago. I just thank God that he didn't killed my mom. We don't suppose to judge people. In the Bible it states who ever never sin throw the first stone. As we judge her husbands death and the age between them who is ready to throw the first stone. Newspapers, reports don't always have their straight neither so be careful of what you read and investigate the situation first if you want to judge.

critter
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critter 04/07/08 - 04:32 pm
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Actually, you can collect on

Actually, you can collect on most insurance policies even with a suicide if you get past the first two years after you take out a policy. I really don't buy the idea of organs having a memory. This is just a tragedy for all involved.

HippieChick
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HippieChick 04/07/08 - 04:49 pm
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I think the real common

I think the real common factor is the wife and as a women of the same age I don't think I would have gone there in the first place. Him having her 1st hudbands heart would serve as a painful reminder if you ask me. Also life insurance DOES PAY out if you kill yourself if the policy has been in force for a specific amount of time before the death occurs. I think the way it was carried out is another common factor in addition to the guys profession and the heart. I see RED flags everywhere.

vidaliaga
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vidaliaga 04/07/08 - 05:13 pm
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I'm from Vidalia, but don't

I'm from Vidalia, but don't know the family. I've lost 2 family members to suicide. I can't imagine what she is feeling. She is probably consumed with guilt. I think he placed himself in his donor's world. He probably did take on some of his personality traits, because of his surroundings. Not the heart. The saddest part is the children. Parents who commit suicide increase the chance of their kids doing the same by a HUGE margin. It's all very sad.

my2sense
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my2sense 04/07/08 - 05:34 pm
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This is really strange. I

This is really strange. I have to agree with some of u, something smell both fishy and ratty. Lets just c what happens to husband #3 and I have a feeling there will be a number 3. When this incident airs on A&E on truTV, someone please let us know.

GnipGnop
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GnipGnop 04/07/08 - 07:38 pm
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UM I'm not trying to be mean

UM I'm not trying to be mean or anything...but this is news because??

pigskin70
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pigskin70 04/07/08 - 08:11 pm
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Please stay tuned, as this is

Please stay tuned, as this is not the end of the story. Please keep HIS CHILDREN and EX-WIFE in your prayers.

pursesshoes all day
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pursesshoes all day 04/08/08 - 07:44 am
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w.o.w

w.o.w

stillamazed
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stillamazed 04/08/08 - 08:25 am
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It does sound a little fishy

It does sound a little fishy but who knows, stranger things have happened. Sounds like it would make a good made for tv movie. I would be interested to hear more from this. He must have had some money, the story said that he bought her and her kids a house....and then of course there is a pretty big age difference there. rich man, younger woman, one suicide already, does make you say huuuh.

serk
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serk 04/08/08 - 02:33 pm
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I hope no one has the heart

I hope no one has the heart now.

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