The News Courier in Athens, Alabama


May 1, 2014

Mary Dean Cox

— Mary Dean French Cox died Monday, April 26, 2014. She was born Feb. 3, 1922.

The family of Mary Dean Cox, nee French, real estate investor, president of Pensacola Refrigeration Supply Inc., widow of its founder, the late Charles F. Cox, and devoted homemaker and mother, acknowledges her passing, with gratitude for her full life. Mrs. Cox retained close ties to Athens, Alabama, the homeplace of her heart, and embraced a legacy of connection with the lands of Limestone and Lauderdale counties that have been home to the French family since the late 1700s.

Mrs. Cox, known as Mary Dean to friends, met her husband of 53 years while they were attending Alabama Polytechnic Institute, later known as Auburn University, where she studied journalism and home economics, and he, architecture and engineering. They were married in 1942 and moved to Pensacola in 1957 after having lived in Baltimore, Maryland, and Fort Worth, Texas, where Mr. Cox supervised design of U.S. military aircraft for Glenn L. Martin Company and Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corporation, respectively, during and after World War II, later moving to Washington, D.C., where Mrs. Cox worked for the U.S. Treasury Department and Mr. Cox assisted in the extensive structural renovation of, and additional construction to, the White House during the Truman administration, and opened a wholesale distributorship business before relocating briefly with his wife and young daughter to Jackson, Mississippi, while deciding upon Pensacola as the location in the South in which to establish a wholesale heating and refrigeration supply distributorship, in order that Mrs. Cox and her children could more frequently visit their Athens family and home.

Mr. and Mrs. Cox were welcomed to the Pensacola community by former college friends and involved themselves in religious, social, arts, and charitable organizations while rearing three daughters. Mrs. Cox was a past president of the Woman’s Club of Pensacola and member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Mt. Vernon Ladies Association, the Pensacola Museum of Art Guild, the Lydia Class of First Baptist Church of Pensacola, and a member or supporter of other causes and organizations in Pensacola and Athens including donations of land made jointly with her brother Lifford, including the land on which sits Brookhill Elementary School, other joint contributions or benefits made with brothers John, Lifford, and their mother, as well as national social and charitable organizations, including the Society of the Debutante Charity Cotillion Inc. of Pensacola where her daughters Amie and Debbie were presented. She and her family enjoyed activities at both Scenic Hills Country Club and Pensacola Country Club where Mr. Cox held memberships and served on the board, and she enjoyed the designation of being a “Rotary Ann” during the many years, until his death, that Mr. Cox was a member of Suburban West Rotary Club.

Before her marriage, Mrs. Cox rode, showed, and assisted in training Tennessee Walking Horses bred by her father, was a gymnast and cheerleader, newspaper journalist and society writer for the Glomerata and the Plainsman, publications of Alabama Polytechnic Institute, and was a loyal alumna of the then Methodist affiliated Athens College, now Athens State University, originally founded in 1822 as Athens Female Academy to serve the educational needs of women, a lifelong interest of Mrs. Cox.

Mrs. Cox was born in Athens, the daughter of the late John Hector French Sr., cattleman, horseman, rancher, farmer, stockyard owner, and descendant of a Continental Army veteran of the American Revolution who was later a founder of Limestone and Madison counties, and his wife, the late Mary Agnes French, nee Easley, who had removed from Texas where her father, a descendant of colonial era French Huguenots, Continental Army veterans and patriots of the American Revolution, and early founders of the Methodist Episcopal Church in America, had gone, as a boy, with his family in the early 1850s, later wedding the daughter of the Rev. J.H. Rowland, a renowned Baptist minister in east Texas in the 1850s.

Mrs. Cox’s two beloved brothers, John Hector French Jr., and Lifford Easley French, predeceased her, as did her dear first cousins, Nicholas Flood (the late Margaret Flood Malone) of Athens, Bob Sarver (the late Shirley Wallace

Sarver) of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and Jody Hays (the late Edward Sr.) of Marlin, Texas.

Surviving her, are her three daughters, Rebecca Dean Cox and Amie Cox, both of Pensacola, and Debbie Cox Washington Wyatt (Andrew) of Atlanta; and grandson, Everett Cox Washington, of Atlanta. Also left to remember and mourn her are her sister-in-law, Frances “Sandy” Cox, nee Sandstrom (the late Donald G. Cox) of Springfield, Pennsylvania; nieces, Donna French of Athens, Lynn Cox of Yardley, Pennsylvania; and nephews, John H. French III of Athens, Donald Gilmer Cox Jr., and Randal Charles Cox, both of Springfield; her cousins, Rebecca Easley Paar (the late Donald Jr.) of Bremond, Texas, Carolyn Easley Pettey (the late L.B. Jr.) of Bremond, Frances Broadwater (the late Joe) and Bobby Powell (Reba,) both of Athens, and the children of the late Frank Powell, Pat and Darla; Andrew Wyatt of Atlanta; Kerry Culligan of Pensacola; and her much-appreciated family of employees of Pensacola Refrigeration Supply, including longtime business manager Mary Brown (the late Tom Brown.)

The family wishes to acknowledge as honorary pallbearers, Mr. Keith L. Bell, Mr. Kerry Culligan, Mr. John H. French III, Mr. Everett Cox Washington, and Mr. Andrew Wyatt, and wants to thank the many near relatives, personal and business friends and acquaintances who thought of her and often made inquiries or sent their regards to Mrs. Cox, for which she was very appreciative. Her family and her friends will miss her presence and cherish her memory.

If one wishes to make a memorial donation in the name of Mrs. Cox, the family suggests one of three causes dear to her heart:

Athens State University Foundation, P.O. Box 70, Athens, AL 35612, 256-233-8100;

Alabama Veterans Museum and Archives, P.O. Box 1500, 100 W. Pryor St., Athens, AL 35612;

Florida Baptist Children’s Home in Pensacola, where it may be used to maintain the Mary Agnes French Memorial Garden, so named by Mrs. Cox in tribute to her mother who was orphaned young. Florida Baptist Children’s Home, P.O. Box 8190, Lakeland, FL 33802

When donating, please, include the words, “in memory of Mary Dean French Cox,” and the donor’s name and return address.

Visitation will be held from 11:30 a.m. until the funeral service is to begin at noon on Saturday, May 3, 2014, at Harper-Morris Memorial Chapel in Pensacola, with the Rev. Robert G. “Bobby” Ellisor, pastor of Gadsden Street United Methodist Church, officiating. Interment will follow at Bayview Memorial Park Cemetery. The Cox family’s selection of flowers is being prepared by Celebrations Florist, 850-433-2022.

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