The happiest man alive has died. James (Jim) Lee Cox, Sr., age 83 of Thornville, passed away in body only on August 29, 2014 at Fairfield Medical Center. His spirit will live on in his wife, Jacqueline (his soulmate and best friend to whom he devoted his life); his children, Cynthia Cox Remaly Watkins (the tom boy, confirmed by the black eye she sports in her first grade picture); her husband, Pete Watkins (with whom Jim strolled hand-in-hand in Provincetown); Pete’s daughter, Katherine (who Jim considered his granddaughter, a University of South Carolina sophomore and future doctor extraordinaire); Pete’s son, Kyle (a cagefighter); Jim’s second daughter, Shelley Cox (the nomadic ballet dancer/former Playboy Bunny); James Lee Cox Jr. (“Jimmy”), Jim’s first namesake, the natural athlete who excelled at football, and who once ate an entire box of chocolateflavored dog biscuits; his first grandson, Derek James Remaly, the wonder child who Jim considered his third son; his second grandson, James Lee Cox, III (“JC,” Jim’s second namesake whose first words were “Cut grass” sitting atop Jim’s Massey Ferguson); his wife, the amazing Trish, and their children, Hailey (the current princess and future fashion designer) and James Lee Cox, IV (“James,” Jim’s third namesake of whom Jim was so proud when he made a fist and stuck out his punching knuckle); his third grandson, Michael Anthony Cox, a 1st Lieutenant in the Army who resides with his lovely wife, Nicole in Hawaii (yes, really, Hawaii); his fourth grandson, Justin Tyler Cox (who has his father Stevie’s open heart and love of people, qualities passed down by Jim); and Justin’s mom, the soft-spoken Christi, who Jim considered his third daughter. (She never failed to make Jim yolkless deviled eggs for family gatherings.)
Jim was born May 19, 1931, in New Boston, Ohio. A product of the Great Depression, he once saved a broken dowel rod because he might be able to use it later. He graduated from Portsmouth High School and attended college in Georgia. He served as a staff sergeant in the Marine Corps during the Korean Conflict, although he never considered himself a veteran. Coming back from Korea, prone on a ship deck, he longed for a simple glass of milk. He started working at General Motors as a timekeeper, became a member of the UAW, and worked his way up to foreman. He retired after 31 years, and had hoped to be retired for at least as many years so that he and GM would be even.
Jim is survived by his siblings, Russell (Rachel) Cox (whose saucy letters to Jim in Korea while Russ was stationed in Hawaii, were a source of great reading to Jim’s children) and Judith Cox (Earl) Compton (she, of the fiery red hair and green eyes which did not match her temperament). He is also survived by numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, relatives, former coworkers and friends, all of whom knew they were loved by this caring and funny man.
Jim was preceded in death by his mother, Ruby (Cindy and Shelley were grateful when she took Jimmy for the summer); his brother, Gene (with whom Jim went brawling in his bachelor days); and Jim’s youngest son, Steven Allen Cox (“Beanie Bomb Bomb” – a firecracker actually went off in his hand one New Year’s Eve). Jim never went into his woodshop after Stevie’s death. It changed us all, as will the passing of this great man, Jim Cox, the tallest pillar in his family, a man who loved his children and family, didn’t have a clue as to how to farm, loved his wife (which often puzzled his children), and loved the Cleveland Browns (if you have read all of this and have not yet gotten a sense of his loyalty, this should do it for you).
No service will be held as Jim donated his body to Ohio University, Athens. A donation to a charity of your choice may be made in celebration of a life well lived.