Larry Gibbs Cox was remembered last Saturday as a dedicated 20-year City Council member, an enthusiastic community volunteer and, most importantly, as a friend.
Cox, 81, passed away Oct. 18 following a series of strokes. His funeral service, which more than 200 people attended, was held in the auditorium of Fulton High School, from which he graduated in 1960. The school’s slogan, “Enter to learn; go forth to serve,” was prominent throughout the building. Larry Cox did just that.
Steve Diggs, the president and CEO of Emerald Youth Foundation, officiated at the services. Cox was a dedicated supporter of EYF. “Larry was the founding force of Emerald Youth Foundation,” Diggs said. “Larry was more than a mentor to me. Thanks to his family for sharing him with me and with our community.”
Rev. Bob Bean, the retired pastor of Emerald Avenue United Methodist Church, where Cox was a congregant, recalled Cox’s willingness to help. “Larry was always ready to serve; he never turned down a request to be on a committee,” Bean said. “Every pastor needs a Larry.”
Former Fulton head football coach Buck Coatney recalled Cox’s dedication to Emerald Youth Foundation, Fulton High School, St. Mary’s Medical Center and numerous youth sports endeavors and called Cox “the most genuinely charitable man I’ve ever met.”
Former U.S. Congressman John J. “Jimmy” Duncan Jr., a longtime friend who was in a golf foursome with Cox for many years, remembered Cox as “the most enthusiastic member of any organization he was in.” Chuckled Duncan, referring to being asked to support Cox’s many causes, “It was not cheap to be a friend of Larry!”
“This community is better because of Larry Cox,” Duncan said. “The country would be a better place if we had more people like Larry Cox.”
Alan Carmichael, another member of Cox’s golf foursome, recalled Cox as “the best friend a person could have,” and he drew laughs when he mentioned some of Cox’s escapades.
Former Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe told Carmichael about the time Cox accompanied Ashe on a sister city visit to Japan. Cox set off a metal detector when getting ready to board a plane at the Knoxville airport. Seems he was bringing aboard some silverware from his house because he was worried he wouldn’t be able to master chop sticks when he arrived in Japan!
Once the group got there, Cox availed himself of the famous communal baths that Japanese men and women enjoy at different times in different areas. Cox somehow got confused and found himself surrounded by giggling women when he went at the wrong time!
On another occasion, Jimmy Duncan put together a group to attend a NASCAR race in Bristol and all the friends were seated in the same row to watch the race, which is extremely noisy. Many of the group inserted the ear plugs they had brought to shield their ears from the roar of the stock cars, but not Cox. Even so, a few minutes into the race Jimmy’s son, Zane Duncan, tapped Carmichael on the arm and pointed down the row to Cox. He was sound asleep.
Cox is survived by his wife, Brenda, his children Brooke Cox Coffin and Shane Cox, and their families. His full obituary is here. Pianist Candace Armstrong and singer Calvin Daniels provided beautiful music for Cox’s service.
Because Cox was so active in the community, he was on the Blue Streak a large number of times. I thought you’d like to see some of those photos of a great guy that I also considered to be a friend.