‘He was a strong, caring leader’

Asia Ashley

March 22, 2014

Former LaGrange City Councilman and community activist Frank Cox, Jr. leaves behind a legacy in LaGrange that will be treasured for years.

Cox, who died March 14, was a member of the city council from 1998 to 2005 and had aided in several community efforts in the past 60 years.

“He was a strong, caring leader for District 2 and all of LaGrange,” said former mayor Jeff Lukken. “He had a quick wit and disarming sense of humor. You just naturally had to like the guy. He was a good friend of mine and we will surely miss him.”

Cox is known for his founding of “Paint the Town,” eight years ago, an event that began after Cox urged DASH to do something for homeowners in southeast LaGrange. DASH’s initial focus was rehabilitating the Hillside neighborhood in southwest LaGrange.

DASH began a new tradition in 2011, naming a community service award for Cox, the Frank Cox Service Award. Cox received the first award.

Also in 2011 the city had dedicated Union Street Park, now called Frank Cox Union Street School Park, to Cox during an Arbor Day celebration.

Like the 22-foot cypress tree that was planted during the ceremony, Cox’s “influence will be here long after we’re gone,” Lukken had said that day.

The site had been a private high school for African Americans in the 1880s and was chosen for a school when the public school system was created in 1903. A playground was added in 1936 and the school was used until 1940, when it was replaced by McGregor Street School. The building later served as a nursery school, a meeting place for Cox’s Boy Scout troops and as a recreational facility.

City officials noted that Cox was also instrumental in government progress because of his efforts with the NAACP, which led the council to then have three black members.

“He was instrumental in bringing district voting to LaGrange,” said City Manager Tom Hall. “He felt the black population was being under represented and insured that the black population was proportionately represented on a governing authority. He’s leaving a positive legacy.”

Councilman Nick Woodson was elected to council at the same time as Cox and said they initially had reservations about each other, but soon became great friends.

“We grew up together as councilmen and he was a great city councilman,” said Woodson. “He always stood up for what he thought was right. I hated to see when he got beat-out of office- because I really liked working with him.”

Woodson said he and Cox grew close after going on several city conventions together and over the years have spent time together. He also credited Cox for bridging the racial gap in the city government.

“He was good at connecting two races together,” Woodson said. “He didn’t see color. He could see both sides of anything.”

Cox is also responsible for initiating the annual Thanksgiving Dinner, sponsored by Jake Sessions “Up All Night” show on TV-33, that provides meals to the needy on Thanksgiving Day.

Cox at hospice of LaGrange. Funeral services for Cox will be held today at 2 p.m. at Warren Temple United Methodist Church at 416 East Depot Street.