Larry Cox truly embodied slogan of Fulton High School, his alma mater: “Enter to learn; go forth to serve.”

Brenda and Larry Cox in May 2014 when U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner came to Knoxville to speak at a fundraiser for Congressman John J. Duncan Jr.

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, left, and Larry Cox in 2019 at a fundraiser for Knoxville City Council candidate Janet Testerman.

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.

Larry Cox, left, with Sue Atchley and Jack Hammontree during a 2015 community reception at the Knoxville Convention Center welcoming Rick Barnes as the University of Tennessee’s new men’s head basketball coach. (Photo by Gary Heatherly.)

Brenda and Larry Cox at a 2010 Con Hunley concert at the Tennessee Valley Fair.

Larry Cox and former Knoxville Vice Mayor Jack Sharp kid around with reporter Betty Bean of the Shopper-News at the Moxley Carmichael annual client party in 2011 in the historic Miller’s Building.

Larry and Brenda Cox in 2017 at a fundraiser for Knox County Commission candidate Gwen McKenzie at Holly’s Gourmet’s Market.

Former Knoxville Mayor and Ambassador to Poland Victor Ashe and his wife, Joan, right, pose with Larry Cox and his daughter, Brooke, at Cox’s 70th birthday party at the Kerbela Shrine Temple in 2012.

Larry Cox dancing with his cousin, Barbara Owen, at that same party.

Larry Cox with Ernestine Purkey, the former owner of The Corner Lounge, at his 70th birthday party.

Also at that party, from left, Alan Carmichael, Hallie Duncan, Larry Cox and Zane Duncan.

Former Knoxville City Council members, from left, Jack Sharp, Ivan Harmon and Larry Cox take the stage at Cox’s 70th birthday party.

Brenda Cox watches her husband open a present at his 70th birthday party in 2012.

Larry Cox with Gay Lyons on election night in 2010 at the Crowne Plaza in downtown Knoxville when Bill Haslam was elected Tennessee governor.

Larry and Brenda Cox in 2021 at the opening party for Marble City Market.

From left, Larry and Brenda Cox, Alan Carmichael and Christi Branscom at the Moxley Carmichael client party in First Tennessee Plaza in 2010.

Larry Cox, left, and former Knoxville City Councilman Ed Shouse in 2012 at a reception at the Knoxville Convention Center welcoming Holly Warlick as the new University of Tennessee head women’s basketball coach. (Shouse would later be elected Knox County Commissioner and Knox County Trustee.)

Larry and Brenda Cox in 2018 at the Tennessee Theatre for the “Stars on Stage” fundraiser.

From left, Ed Shouse, Larry Cox and Alan Carmichael in 2015 at the Knoxville Museum of Art for the wedding of Natalie Robinson and Marshall Stair.

Last Saturday in the Fulton High School auditorium, Alan Carmichael spoke at Cox’s funeral service. Seated on stage, from left, Rev. Bob Bean, Steve Diggs, Coach Buck Coatney and former Congressman John J. Duncan, Jr.



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5 Responses to Larry Cox truly embodied slogan of Fulton High School, his alma mater: “Enter to learn; go forth to serve.”

  1. Charmin Foth, on November 1st, 2023 at 2:20 pm said:

    What a wonderful tribute to a great man. He was a friend and mentor to me and will be deeply missed by all of the North Knoxville Business and Professional Association. He helped found the group and was the Vice President for 20 years. In 2024 the title of Vice President on our board will be retired because there will never be another to fill his shoes. His loss leaves a hole in our hearts and our community.

  2. Alan Carmichael, on November 1st, 2023 at 2:31 pm said:

    Larry was a good ‘un, as he would say.

  3. Steve Carmichael, on November 1st, 2023 at 4:21 pm said:

    Very nice tribute. He will be missed by many.

  4. John Smith, on November 2nd, 2023 at 2:12 pm said:

    My best friend for over 70 years, Larry was many things to many people, most of all he was “A Good Man” Rest in peace Larry Gibbs Cox you served well .

  5. Cynthia Moxley, on November 5th, 2023 at 9:52 am said:

    Charmin: Agree, friend. We are really missing Larry. He and Alan used to talk every week about golf schedules, politics, or just good gossip.

    Alan: I know you miss your friend, honey. I do, too.

    Steve: You are right about him being missed.

    John: You are so right. He served well.

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