Wayne Cox
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Cox, Wayne, Long after the noisy wire machines and typewriters fell silent, replaced by computers, Wayne Robert Cox continued to be an institution at The Wichita Eagle. In the fast-paced and ever-changing world of journalism, with employees arriving and quickly moving on, Mr. Cox - a developmentally challenged wisp of a man who worked 45 years as a copy boy - would tell wide-eyed reporters: "I seen 'em come, and I seen 'em go." And indeed, he had. He was the third generation of his family to work for The Eagle and Beacon. And, in 1991, when he retired after 45 years - he did so as one of the last copy boys in the nation. "Wayne Cox was the personification of an era gone by in journalism," said Forrest Gossett, who worked at The Eagle and later became Mr. Cox's guardian and conservator. Mr. Cox died Saturday from complications of pneumonia. He was 85. Funeral services will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, April 23, at the Salvation Army Citadel, 1739 Elpyco, with music provided by Richard and Karen Crowson. The service will be officiated by Salvation Army Capt. Dean Towne. Lunch, catered by NuWay - one of Mr. Cox's favorites - will immediately follow in the church fellowship hall. Mr. Cox was born June 25, 1925, in Newton. He technically started working for The Eagle when he was four years old, standing outside the Newton train station where his dad, Hadley Cox, worked hawking the Wichita Evening Eagle. When Marshall Murdock, founding editor of The Eagle was still publisher, Mr. Cox's grandfather, Bill Springborn, was in charge of the news boys at their street stands. Mr. Cox's father worked circulation routes when Murdock's son, Marcellus, ran the paper. When he was 21, Mr. Cox officially began working in The Eagle building. His bicycle paper route had been done away with and he was without a job. He asked Marcellus Murdock, "What am I going to do?" Murdock hired him full-time as a copy boy. In the old newsroom, an editor would yell "Copy Boy" and it was Mr. Cox's job to dash the typewritten copy from the newsroom down a flight of stairs to the composing room, where the newspaper was laid out; he would then grab proofs of pages and bring them back up to the newsroom where they were given a last look before being printed. As technology developed, a buzzer would sound to let him know when machines needed servicing in the wire room. He would change the ribbons in typewriters and drive to City Hall to pick up reports. "He was a person of routine and that's why he was such a good copy boy," Gossett said. "I met Wayne on May 14, 1984 - my first day. I was sitting at my desk, which was right in front of the AP photo machine, and Wayne walked over and introduced himself by saying, 'It's getting hot out there. I am Wayne. You must be Forrest.' " His lifestyle was simple. His manner of speech was a cross between the gruffness of Billy Bob Thornton's "Sling Blade" and the matter-of-factness of Tom Hanks' "Forrest Gump." He'd talk to himself and was a virtual thermometer, letting people know the temperature outside, asking if they were "Doin' any good?" letting them know when it was pay day and what he did on his vacations. He loved Chevys, pumpkin pie and old episodes of "Gunsmoke." It was part of Eagle lore that the only person who had permanent job security was Mr. Cox; the Murdock family had insisted his job remain guaranteed as part of the agreement when it sold The Eagle. It was also said that for years the only three people entrusted with the key to the publisher's office were the publisher, the head of maintenance and Mr. Cox. "I could always tell when somebody new would come to The Eagle how long they would last by how nice they were to Wayne," said Peggy Smith, a friend and colleague of Mr. Cox. "If they didn't pay attention to him, they were not long for this world." In 1965, Mr. Cox turned into an overnight celebrity when he spotted the car of bank robber and killer Duane Pope - in The Eagle's parking lot. At the time, there was a national search for Pope and the car, a black 1939 Buick convertible with a white top. "Wayne knew every model of car and would stare out the window and identify cars," said Fran Kentling, a retired administrative editor at the paper. "He came in and said, 'I seen that car.' Someone said, 'What car?' Wayne said, 'That car. That car everybody is looking for.' " Eventually, somebody went out with him and it was Duane Pope's car. That was the highlight in Wayne's life for many, many years." A photo of Mr. Cox pointing to the car was splashed on nearly every paper in the nation. He was later commended by FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. When Mr. Cox retired from The Eagle on June 28, 1991, columnist Bob Getz wrote: "Never had I seen this newspaper's main conference room so crowded, so full. So full of people. So full of affection. People of all sizes, shapes, positions and dispositions, people from every level, department, floor, executive nook and mail room cranny." At first, Mr. Cox did not fare well in retirement. He became the victim of people taking advantage of him - financially, physically and emotionally. It was a Wichita community of good Samaritans who eventually saved him. The Kansas Department of Social Rehabilitation Services stepped in. The Fleeson, Gooing, Coulson & Kitch law firm volunteered dozens of hours to give him the opportunity to live on his own. And when it got to the point he needed assistance in making sure he took medication and made his doctor's appointments on time, he was one of the first people enrolled in Via Christi's Hope program; and then, into the Via Christi's Hope Health Center, where he lived out his final days. "It was a village that cared for him," Gossett said. "Anyone who treated and cared for him came away loving him. He represents so much of the newspaper and what the community did to step up and make sure - this one person - had a quality life." Mr. Cox has no survivors. In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established in Mr. Cox's name with the Salvation Army Citadel, 1739 Elpyco, Wichita, KS 67218.

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Published in Wichita Eagle on Apr. 20, 2011.
MEMORIES & CONDOLENCES
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50 entries
August 21, 2012
OK, so I'm a little late - as was my copy so many times. Beccy has indeed written one of the nation's great obits. Wayne was a real character - in the most loving sense of that term - and I doubt there is much room for "characters" in the newsrooms of today. It is their, and our, loss. Wayne Cox was more than that, though. He was a true newspaperman, and there is no greater tribute in the ranks of those who ever worked for a daily newspaper. I wish William Sydney Porter could have
known him. He was O. Henry's kind of guy.
George Neavoll
May 15, 2011
I cared for Wayne at Via Christ Hope Nursing Center for a short time he was a joy to be around. He always had that caring loving face even in his difficult times. He was so cute. I am sorry for your loss.
Kim St. Michel
May 8, 2011
Mr. Cox sounds like a great newspaper man. It is people like him that make me proud to be a newspaper man
DeWayne Bartels
May 6, 2011
I met Wayne when I was very young at the original Wichita Eagle building across from the Innes (Macy's) store. My father was the executive sports editor, Bill Hodge, and he told many stories that Wayne would like to hear. One story in particular comes to mind. Every year in Oklahoma they have a rattlesnake hunt to reduce the number of venomous snakes. My father had been down in Oklahoma on a story and came back and decided to pull a practical joke on Wayne. Dad put a rolled up newspaper in a box and told Wayne that whatever he did, not to touch the box. Wayne was naturally curious so he went over to the box and Dad saw him from a distance. Dad ran over to Wayne and picked up the box and jiggled it (as if something was alive in the box) and told Wayne that a rattlesnake was in the box. Then Dad popped open the box and (like a jack-in-the-box) and tossed the rolled up newspaper on the floor. Wayne started cussing at Dad, as he would at anyone who teased him and even years later he would tell anyone listening about the rattlesnake story in the sports newsroom.
When I graduated from high school in 1967 I worked at the Eagle/Beacon which was now on East Douglas and Wayne was in our office several times a day, delivering the papers to the Library. He was always courteous, friendly and helpful, but he always remembered the practical jokes Dad pulled on him....and he liked them. He knew my Dad liked him, giving him rides home, paying for a dinner here and there and other acts of kindness. Wayne was one of a kind and I am so glad that so many people took the time, effort and money to help him in his life and later years. He is surely in a special place in Heaven, greated by all the Eagle/Beacon employees who have passed on and I wouldn't be surprised if my Dad was still pulling practical jokes on him.
Kathy Hodge Rodgers
Lenexa, KS
May 5, 2011
I am not from Wichita , but I read this story with tears in my eyes. What an outpouring of love for a wonderful man. Mr. Cox sounds like he was a delight and well loved.( I wish I had met him) May he rest in peace and be remembered by many .
April 28, 2011
I'm another person who didn't know Mr. Cox, but after reading his obit, I wish I had. Clearly, he was an amazing person. My thanks also, to whoever wrote the story.
April 26, 2011
I didn't know Mr. Cox, but this is a wonderful story. An example of someone who touched many lives, and worked with dignity even though he appeared to be "handicapped." Thanks to whoever wrote and shared this amazing biography.
April 24, 2011
No one handled his job as faithfully as you did, Mr. Wayne. I greeted you in the Composing Room on work days. May your soul rest in peace. ~ Pete
Hubert L. (Pete) Greenbank
April 24, 2011
Just a follow up. The turnout at Wayne's celebration Saturday simply floored Forrest, the Dinnells, Peggy and I. The way he brought us all together choked up the surliest hard-bitten newsroom curmudgeons. I know many others wanted to be there but for family responsibilities on the holiday weekend. But so many of you from around the country expressed your love on this page and through emails and Facebook and carrier pigeon. Thank you all. Wayne was so proud to know you, to be part of this extended family, and you have to bet he's dancing with joy right now.
Bill Hirschman
April 23, 2011
We all hope today was a joyful celebration of Wayne. Forrest, you and all others who assisted Wayne can feel proud! Thank you.
Diane
April 23, 2011
I'm so glad I had the opportunity to know Wayne during his working years and then to attend his service today. What a tribute to Wayne. All of his friends were smiling today, because of him.
John Murphy
April 22, 2011
Wayne - The last 17 years have been so rewarding. However, dear friend, you got the short end. I gained far more from you than you ever gained from me. You taught me humility. You taught me courage. You taught me faith. Serving as your guardian and conservator was the highest honor of my life. I know that you are dancing with the angels. We will celebrate your life on Saturday, buddy. And it will be a celebration. I miss you so much.
Forrest Gossett
April 22, 2011
Does anyone recall Wayne's famous rat-killing dog story? I don't remember many of the details except that the dog helped control the rat population somewhere on the Cox property and Wayne was eager to tell you the story. The dog died eventually, and Wayne and daddy buried him. At the end of the story, Wayne would smile and shake his head and say, "We never did see that dog again."
I worked at the Eagle from 1974 to 1985, mostly on the copy desk. Wayne kept the copy flowing.
Janice Rombeck
April 22, 2011
Wish I could have met you Mr. Cox....may you rest in peace.
Debbie
April 21, 2011
What a fantastic life! I wish I could have met you, Mr. Cox. God Bless and may you rest in peace.
April 21, 2011
I first met Wayne at a sorrowful time in my life. Not long before, I had lost my daughter, Alex, to leukemia. In a very real way, I felt like Wayne was an angel in my life, and he simply made me feel better about myself. At the time, in 1998, his legal guardian, Forrest Gossett, was moving from Wichita to take a new job and needed someone to help Wayne. Little did I imagine I would go from helping a 6-year-old to a 72-year-old, but I did.
It was the beginning of extremely rewarding friendship for me, and our family, which later included my wife, Nancy, with help from our sons, Zach, Matt and Cory and daughter, Ashley.
You became a part of our family, sharing our holidays along with rewarding visits throughout the year.
God bless you, Wayne. You always turned a frown to a smile and were a wonderful addition to our lives.
It was an honor and privilege to be your friend. We will always remember and love you.

David and Nancy Dinell
Wichita
April 21, 2011
Wayne was one of the first people I met at the Eagle when I started in 1977, and we became fast friends on the "night watch". He was a fascinating person...pleasant and crusty at the same time! I missed Wayne when he retired and, unfortunately, never saw him again after that. My loss.... Condolences to all those who knew and loved Wayne.
Steve Gladfelter
April 21, 2011
I am too touched by Mr.Cox.The last year he spent his life hear at Via Christi Hope.He would always greet me with a "Hello how are ya!"And asking him he would always say "Great".I loved hearing his stories and looking at the pictures on his wall of the Actors he knew.He never complained and always had a smile.One of the true poineers of humanity,forever missed by us all!Thank you for touching our hearts.Wayne may God be with you!
Michael lasiter
April 21, 2011
I remember well the day that Knight-Ridder executives Jim Batten and Tony Ridder stopped by the Eagle (in the early '90s, I think) to show the corporate flag. I think Wayne was observing one of his (many) employment anniversaries. At any rate, Wayne, Jim and Tony posed for a photo together. It is one of my fondest memories of the Eagle. Sadly there's no room in the news business for any of those characters anymore: the reporter who rises to CEO, the newspaper scion, the simple man who inspires a wellspring of warmth and humanity from those he meets. I hate to see 'em go.
Bruce Janssen
April 21, 2011
Wayne's brother Carl (who passed several years ago) worked for our family business (Kline's Meats) and shared mannerisms and attitudes with Wayne. We got to know the entire family, and reading the obit was a real trip through time. And just as we still speak of Carl, I'm sure that people will speak highly of Wayne for years to come. To me, that is heaven.
Michael Kline
April 21, 2011
"STOP THE PRESSES" I threw the Eagle in the 1950's Back when News was news and not so much politics. Wayne we need more like you. Maybe the Eagle could start the press run 1 min. late in Mr. Cox's honor- I haven't seen it; here is hoping Crowson does a tribute also? Thank you Wichita for stepping up and helping Mr Cox!
old guy
April 21, 2011
I started working at the Eagle in 1968 and for almost a year I heard Wayne talk about his Mamma and Daddy and thought it was so sweet. Then I learned his parents were long gone...but so very close in his heart and mind. Now he can be at peace with his precious Momma and Daddy and talk to them every day. God bless you dear friend.
Sheryel Ford-Devlin
April 21, 2011
Over the years, I've quoted Wayne when "I seen 'em come and I seen 'em go" was just the right thing to say. What a tremendous obituary, great tribute and special memories.
Beth Rosenberg Zweig, Eagle Beacon 1981-1985
April 21, 2011
My father retired from the Eagle and I remember my father often mentioning Mr. Cox many times with fondness. What a wonderful character he must have been. RIP Mr. Cox.
Robin McKinney
April 20, 2011
Wayne used to come in to the Texaco station on Maple by Friends University that I worked at when I was a kid. I remembered him as a simple man living a very proud life. I don't think I ran into him since the mid 70's but I'm glad to hear he was so well thought of. He was a good man.
Chris Burke
April 20, 2011
Wayne's obituary was truly well written and captured the essence of the man. When I began my first job at the Eagle in 1969, it involved being trained by Wayne. I will never forget him. Wayne had only friends. There wasn't any room in his world for enemies.
Britt Murdock Brown, Great-Great Grandson of Col. Marshall Murdock
April 20, 2011
Wayne was one of God's special kids!
Don Popejoy
April 20, 2011
I never much thought of journalists as a sentimental lot, but reading the remembrances of Wayne has changed my view. I met Wayne in August 1985 on my first day on the Eagle copy desk. Jan Boutte (now Brackett) was printing out the style guide, I think, and she and I walked back to the printer area to retrieve it. We met Wayne, who greeted me with "How ya doin'?" and then also Diane Lewis, who chewed us out for printing such a long document and raising noise back near her desk in Biz. Now both dear souls have passed. We've seen too many come and go. I hope Wayne's carrying photo proofs for Harper and copy for Diane, or maybe they're all kickin' back and having a big ol' piece of pumpkin pie.
Alice Sky
April 20, 2011
With Wayne's passing, The Eagle now truly will never be the same. Goodbye to a true newspaperman.
Susan Shaw
April 20, 2011
I didn't know Wayne, but Forrest Gossett is a friend of mine and shared this obit with me. It is perhaps the most well-written and beautiful story I have read in a long time. And I have to think that none of us "are long for this world" if we don't take time to care for one another. Truly an inspiration...
Deborah VanNierop
April 20, 2011
I'm one of the old-timers at the Eagle who still uses Wayne's phrase of "I've seen 'em come, and I've seen 'em go." Wayne, you were an institution at the Eagle and an inspiration to everyone who was lucky enough to know you. Rest in peace!
Linda Joplin
April 20, 2011
Wayne was a truly unique soul who wandered The Eagle and the Beacon for so many years. We are all better people for having known him, he brought out the goodness in us all. A great tribute to him, Beccy, you always have the right touch. Thank you for helping us remember Wayne with smiles in our hearts. You've earned your rest, Wayne. Go with the angels.
Glenda Holder Elliott
April 20, 2011
Wayne had a way of giving you a life lesson without even knowing it. My favorite line of questions was "How's it goin'? Keepin' busy? Well who ain't?!"
Everyone needs someone like Wayne in their life to keep them honest.
Robyn Garrison
April 20, 2011
I've never run across anyone remotely like Wayne. Only Wayne Cox was Wayne, doing his job, day in and day out, always taking time to visit, as decent a person as might ever be found in a newsroom. I'm wearing my Wichita Eagle and Beacon t-shirt today in his honor. I'm grateful not only to have known him, but also to know the kind souls whose care sustained him, including the care taken by the author of his obituary. Thanks for all that you did for all of us, Wayne -- you did us good.
Lisa Austin
April 20, 2011
Wayne was in many ways, the heart and soul of the newsroom: honest, hard-working and friendly to a fault. I will always cherish his stories about "Old Brownie," his beloved Chevelle. He brought out the best in so many of us. Beccy, you have done him proud.
Mike Berry
April 20, 2011
Wayne, you were one of the first people to greet me when I started work in the Eagle newsroom, and you continued to greet me every day, rain or shine. I will never forget the day when you were asked to tell the press room to "Stop the Presses!" Of course they listened. The presses stopped. I can't even remember the reason. But I sure can remember the smile on your face when you wore that "Stop the Presses" T-shirt we got you. Keep smilin' Wayne.
Barry Holtzclaw
April 20, 2011
To whomever wrote this obituary: amazing, moving, inspiring, uplifting and marvelous. Thank you for writing this.
Elizabeth Alexander
April 20, 2011
Wayne, we were and are proud to have been your friends. Thanks for all you gave us. It times like these that writers know how useless their words are. So please settle for we love you. Dance with the angels, buddy.
Bill Hirschman
April 20, 2011
"He who has gone, so we but cherish his memory, abides with us, more potent, nay, more present than the living man."
After reading this, I thought about Wayne even more. He was such an energy at the Eagle (& Beacon). I know that many of us referenced him & his "I've seen 'em come ..." to people that never had the opportunity to work with Wayne.
He was missed at the Eagle and will be missed now - Rest in Peace Wayne, you've earned it.
Candi Chase
April 20, 2011
Wayne, thanks for taking care of me when I started at the Eagle and Beacon in '73. Whatever you're driving today, happy trails.
Lon P. Teter
April 20, 2011
What a wonderful obituary and so fitting for such a remarkable man. I have many fond memories of Wayne giving us the weather updates and, when the occasion called for it, reminding us: I've seen them come and I've seen them go." RIP, Wayne.
Bob Cox
April 20, 2011
I was so sorry to hear of Wayne's death. He was an integral part of my experience at the Eagle Beacon. Hope wherever he is there is plenty of pumpkin pie.
RIP, Wayne.
PJ Rader, Eagle Beacon 1982-1985
April 20, 2011
Wayne, I'm sure you're sitting at you momma's table in heaven enjoying a piece of her pumpkin pie. I'm so glad you were part of my life.
Peggy Smith
April 20, 2011

Beccy, what a beautiful obituary.

When I first started working as a GA reporter at The Eagle, one of my editors told me to never use words that end in -ize, and never describe something as "unique," because it's rare to come across anything that truly is unparalleled or one-of-a-kind. It was excellent advice. But today, I think an exception is in order, and I believe we can all agree on this one: Wayne indeed was a unique man.
Judy Lundstrom Thomas
April 20, 2011
"Ninety-eight degrees outside!"
Thanks, Wayne.
I'm sad that he's gone.
Rest in peace, Wayne.
Mike Venable
April 20, 2011
Wayne greeted me when I came to the Eagle in 1980 and waved me goodbye five years later. A special guy among many good friends in Wichita. We may have come and gone -- and missed each other in the process -- but we all have good memories of Wayne in common. -- Nancy Pate
April 20, 2011
Thank you for honoring Mr. Cox with this beautiful story. We read it twice, cried twice and will remember him with a contribution to his memorial with the Salvation Army.
Diane
April 20, 2011
When I saw Wayne's name in the index of obits, I wondered to myself, "is that the Wayne Cox who worked at The Eagle?". I worked in the newsroom as a News Associate from 1989-1997. When I pulled it up and saw the pic, my heart became heavy. What a dear, dear man he was in all his gruffiness and as Mr. Forrest Gossett (I remember him as well as Fran, Richard, Diane, and Bob)so aptly put it - his Gump-like style. But then, I smiled - as I remember him saying "I've seen 'em come, and I've seen 'em go". God speed, Wayne, and I pray that heaven joyfully receives your soul. God bless,
Barbara Sutton
April 20, 2011
I was honored to be able to say I worked at the Eagle during his time - After he retired his "I've seem them come, I've seen them go" was still used by many. And I loved to get the weather update from him also. He was a great guy. RIP Wayne.
Becky Goines
April 20, 2011
Now that we've seen Wayne go, the world is a less friendly place.
Christine (Crumbo) Carroll
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