Nation : Nixon Praises Cotton at Funeral

<i> From Times staff and wire service reports </i>

Former President Richard M. Nixon, paying homage today to a Republican ally who stood by him through the dark days of Watergate, recalled the late Sen. Norris Cotton as “one of the finest leaders of our time.”

“He was my closest friend in Washington,” Nixon told mourners at a funeral service in the 161-year-old church where Cotton worshiped. The New Hampshire Republican died last week of pneumonia. He was 88.

Cotton and Nixon were freshmen representatives in the 80th Congress in 1947. They left Washington three decades later--Cotton in retirement, Nixon under the threat of impeachment. Cotton was one of the few politicians to receive a personal goodby from Nixon on Aug. 4, 1974, when he resigned in disgrace.