Mercedes Josefina Cox
Bonita Springs, FL
Mercedes Josefina Garcia Cox, of Bonita Springs, FL died peacefully in her home, on August 4, 2016, at the age of 69 years.
Mercedes is survived by her children, Stephanie Ann Crabb of Tampa, FL and Kenneth Joseph Cox of Fishers, IN; her four grandchildren, Benjamin, Abigail, Mercedes and Elliott; her always-devoted ex-husband, Michael Cox; and a loving family of brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews.
Mercedes, "Nena" to her family, was born on March 15, 1947 in San Tome, Venezuela, the youngest of seven children to Aquiles and Abigail Garcia Gruber. Adventurous and ambitious, Mercedes commenced studies at Georgetown University setting her sights on a degree in business. At that time, and unknown to Mercedes, Georgetown did not admit women to the school of business. Not to be discouraged, Mercedes transferred to St. Louis University where she was one of four women to be awarded a business degree in her graduating class. It was there, she met Michael, married in 1968, and began her family.
Mercedes devoted herself to family and community for many years. Always present at school, the pool, the gym, Girl Scouts, the YMCA, she was a powerful force of creativity, organization, resourcefulness and fun. Everything and everyone she touched was made better.
A vibrant professional life was always her destiny. She was one of the first employees at Vera Bradley Designs, instrumental in establishing its culture of excellence in design and service to customer, partner and industry; charting its path to growth; and giving back through her contributions to the founding of the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer Research. The sounds of the ocean and the feel of the sand in her toes called her to Florida in 2000 where she quickly found a home at Ave Maria University. Again, she found herself in a "startup" as one of the first employees at the Florida campus where her skills, talents, energy, faith and love for the mission brought her great joy.
Mercedes passed away peacefully in her home after a brief battle with an unrelenting cancer, in the loving care of family, friends and a compassionate team from Hope Hospice.
A funeral mass is scheduled for 12:00 p.m. on August 20, 2016 at the Ave Maria University Oratory, with a luncheon to follow at the Ave Maria Student Union Ballroom. Father Matthew Lamb will officiate the ceremony. All are welcome to attend and celebrate Mercedes' life.
In lieu of flowers, memorial funds are being established with the Vera Bradley Foundation and Moffitt Cancer Center Foundation.
Published by Naples Daily News on Aug. 11, 2016.