Sunday was a solemn anniversary and the weather turned suitably dour.

Cold wind blew as a few dozen people gathered in Recreation Park to celebrate the life of Barbara Louise Cotton, who was last seen 40 years ago on Sunday. Barb, then 15, vanished, and her family and friends never found out what happened to her.

One of those friends, Sandy Evanson, helped to organize the celebration. Despite the cold weather, she was pleased with how the day went. For the first time family and friends came together to share their memories of her in a public event.

One of the reason’s Cotton’s case has gotten attention recently is the Dakota Spotlight podcast, which has interviewed some of Barb Cotton’s family and friends, including her siblings Kent and Kathy Cotton and Evanson.

The podcast episodes, called “A Better Search For Barb,” led to a petition to have the Williston Police Department hire a private investigator to lead a new investigation into her disappearance.

Sgt. Luke Olson from the Williston police spoke briefly. He said though he isn’t investigating the case, he understood how much it mattered to the family and he asked for the public’s help with new leads.

Anyone with information about Barb Cotton should call the Williston police at 701-572-1212.

“We’re continuing to work as diligently as we can,” Olson said.

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