Gerald Wayne Cox Sr.
Sept. 1, 1921 - Jan. 9, 2014
Gerald Wayne Cox, Sr., died Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, on his own terms. At 92 years old, he was ready to rejoin his beloved wife of nearly 70 years, Madge Edna Randall Cox, who preceded him in death in February 2010. And so, when Wayne was confronted with a difficult health issue recently, he decided against treatment and quickly passed away. He had played his last round of golf, a game he loved, about a month before, and he had enjoyed good health through nearly every day of his long life.
Wayne was born in Wilson County, Kansas (west of Fredonia), on Sept. 1, 1921, in a 10- by 12-foot tin roof shed. His parents, Howard Cox and Hazel Butner Cox Veach, moved the family to California's Imperial Valley in 1922, where Wayne's father worked on a grapefruit ranch. They settled in Redondo Beach, in 1923, on Torrance Boulevard.
Soon after the Great Depression hit in 1929, Howard Cox lost his job, and it became difficult for the family to put food on the table. Wayne, who was still in grade school at the time, learned to fish and for several years he brought home fresh fish almost daily, for supper.
After entering the 9th grade, young Wayne decided to make a change in his life. As he once recalled, he "went to school one morning and never got there." He hitchhiked to Indio, where he hopped onto a freight train and rode all the way to St. Louis, Mo. He spent many months working odd jobs before returning to California and joining the Civilian Conservation Corps, in 1938, working in Placerville, as a wood crew axe man.
After he left the CCC, he met Madge Randall at a beach party. She was a beautiful, tall girl, with flowing brown hair and a sparkling personality. She was there as the date of an acquaintance of Wayne's, but the boy asked Wayne to take her off his hands that evening, because she was a "lemon" who refused to kiss him. Wayne escorted her home and made sure he kissed her goodnight. The couple, who shared the same birthday, married in 1940 and had three children together.
The family lived in El Segundo, for many years, while Wayne worked for Standard Oil.
He served his country in the U.S. Army during World War II, stationed in the Philippines, and he was reactivated in 1950, serving as a platoon sergeant during the Korean War.
After the children were grown, Wayne retired from Standard Oil and moved with Madge to Woodland, in 1966. He later worked intermittently as a consultant for an oil and chemical company, training workers at start-up refineries. The job took he and his wife to eight countries across the world, including Russia, Poland, Belgium and Australia. From 1981 to 1995, Wayne worked part-time for JR Scientific in Woodland, helping to build lab rooms.
He was a devoted member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-days Saints and served in several volunteer positions, working in the Scout and missionary programs and serving as a leader in his congregation. He considered himself to be a "helper," and frequently used his handyman skills to assist friends and neighbors with small jobs in their homes. He loved golf and baseball, and he kept a vegetable garden throughout most of his life, after he'd learned to grow food during the Great Depression.
He served on the board of directors of the Yolo Fliers Club and was a member of the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Wayne is survived by two of his children, Susan Lynn Childers of Woodland, and Carol Ann Pew and her husband, Gary, of Sacramento; his older brother, Dean Cox, of Fairfield; 11 grandchildren and 26 great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife, oldest child, Gerald "Jerry" Wayne Cox, Jr., who was killed in 1968 while serving in the U.S. Army in Vietnam; his parents, and his younger brother, Keith Cox.
Funeral services will be at 11 a.m., Saturday, Jan. 18, at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-days Saints, 850 Pioneer Ave., Woodland, where nearly every member of Wayne's large extended family will gather. Following the funeral service, Wayne will be laid to rest next to his wife at 12:30 p.m., Saturday, at Monument Hill Memorial Park, 35036 CR-22, Woodland. Arrangements are being handled by McNary's Funeral Chapel.
458 College Street Woodland, CA 95695
Published in Daily Democrat from Jan. 15 to Feb. 5, 2014