J. Thomas Cox Sr., 87, of Wilmington N.C. passed away on Monday, July 25, 2016, after a long struggle with COPD.
He was born Aug. 31, 1928, in Monroe, N.C., the son of Jesse J. and Pearla Taylor Cox of Wilmington.
Mr. Cox was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1951 and served his country honorably during the Korean War as an infantry small arms combat squad leader. He achieved the rank of Sgt. First Class and earned his Expert Combat Infantryman’s Badge. He was awarded the Purple Heart after being wounded by enemy fire in Operation Counter, for which his unit received the Presidential Unit Citation.
Upon returning from the war, he became active in community affairs as a member of the Kiwanis Club of Fayetteville, N.C. He also joined the Masonic Lodge, the Shrine Club and served as president of the Exchange Club of Wilmington, N.C., in 1965-1966.
He was an avid golfer and jazz and blues musician, and he earned his pilot’s license on his 16th birthday. His favorite book was Dr. Norman Vincent Peale’s “The Power of Positive Thinking,” and he always had a smile and a friendly word for everyone. He was a loving and devoted father with a strong spiritual belief in God and, like Jonathan Livingston Seagull, wanted to fly higher and faster than yesterday.
He was preceded in death by his parents; sister, Janet Johnson of Zebulon; brother, Jimmy Cox of Myrtle Beach, S.C.; and great-grandchild, Ryan Elizabeth Watts.
He is survived by his children, Mary Anne Watts (Ron) of Wilmington, N.C., and Tom Cox Jr. of Wrightsville Beach, N.C.; two grandsons, Robert Watts (Whitney) of San Antonio, Texas, and Bill Watts of New York City; granddaughter, Christina Watts of San Jose, Calif.;, and three great-grandchildren, Natalie Watts, Dylan Watts and Reiley Watts of San Antonio, Texas; brother-in-law, H.L. Johnson of Zebulon; niece, Debbie Idol; and nephews, Ben and Steve Johnson.
Graveside services will be at 11 a.m. Friday, July 28, at Oakdale Cemetery in Wilmington, N.C. Friends will be received by the family afterwards at the home of Tom Cox Jr. in Wrightsville Beach, N.C.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be made to the foundation of the donor’s choice.
Online condolences and remembrances can be offered at www.coblewardsmithwilmington.com.