Home Creative writing Former Wilkes University history professor Harold Cox dies at 90

Former Wilkes University history professor Harold Cox dies at 90


A true Renaissance man, his passion ranges from politics and creative writing to cart and LGBTQ rights.

If there was ever a picture of Wilkes-Barre-Harold E. Cox and the inextricably linked history, it sure would be at the Veterans Day ceremony at Wilkes University Quad on November 11, 2016.

Cox stood in his period headquarters as speakers praised the virtues and importance of those who took turns in the military. Major uniform for all words.

At the age of 85, the then honorary history professor looked frail but proud, sat a little on the curve of his back, leaned over like a hungry GI on the field battle, and his clothes were put on the media after the last note. Accepted the attention that was drawn. The number of strokes of the trumpet. The elegy melody was the only time he decided to end his worship, and shed tears as the muffled sound drifted through the clear blue days.

At this point, Cox answered the question with a smile to deal with Alzheimer’s disease. When asked what it was like to see people coming together to honor him and other veterans, he simply replied, “I can’t explain it.”

Born in Lynchburg, Virginia in 1931. Cox died on September 8 at the age of 90Through a long relationship with Wilkes, who worked for 52 years, he left a lasting legacy in the region.

His military record goes back further. He served in the United States Army from 1954 to 1956 and elected to remain in the United States Army Reserve for the next 30 years. The fact that he kept the uniform for a long time as a parade presentation and fitted it well in 2016 may be enough to show his commitment to the service.

Career at Wilkes University

The peak of his academic career came in June 2015, when the school dedicated and named the building in his honor, at least in the public eye. During the ceremony, then President Patrick Leahy explained what it looked like.

Cox argued that he had a reputation for advising the president of the university for decades, whether the president of the university welcomed him or not, and Mr Leahy made him welcome. So when Cox stopped chatting again, it wasn’t a surprise – at least not at first.

“Harold showed up in my office a few years ago with a check for $ 165,000 and said, ‘I want you to have this,’” recalls Leahy. “I said, ‘What hell, Harold, the flattery! “He said,” It’s not for you. “

Cox wanted to pay to renovate the bricks, replace windows and doors, and clean up the South River Street building, which has been a bit rustic for decades. Cox became interested in the venerable structure when the university began using it to house the office of a master’s program in creative writing.

How Did a History Teacher Lead to Creative Writing? With the same dedication to construction, the program director praised Cox’s involvement since its inception 10 years ago and learned that many students have learned the vital importance of tracking Cox’s primary sources. I pointed out.

But its influence goes even further. Cox became an informal archivist at the university. When someone asked about the history of a particularly ambiguous part of campus characteristics, he became a reliable man. His expertise in the set of Wilkes earned him the honor rendered before the christening of Harold Cox Hall. A year ago, the school gave its name to the university archives room.

In 2005, the varsity speech team hosted a forensic tournament named after Cox. In 2004, Times Leader served on a project that Cox, then 73, had been working on for eight years. The Wilkes University Election Statistics Project is a website meant to provide everything you want to know about major political races in Pennsylvania since 1789.

The project arose out of a 1996 incident in which Cox approached a university consortium collecting similar statistics and demanded 19th century election records. They told him the data was there, but it would cost more than a fortune to access it. Furious, he sets out to create his own version, available for free online.

Support gay rights

Cox was not ashamed of controversy when the issue mattered to him, especially when he presented a clear lesson in which the story seemed to be ignored. In 1994, a series of anti-homosexual incidents hit the university. Wilkes-Barre city council considered a proposal to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and voted against it. The students held a public rally calling for an end to the hate message posted on campus and a more open attitude towards gay and lesbian communities.

Cox was there and immediately commented that he saw two men having sex in a city park over then-city councilor Al Boris’ controversial reaction to the claims of Kingston residents. The Times frontman alluded to gays, reporting that Boris said: “I should shoot half anyway.”

“If Al Boris had advocated killing half the Jews, or half the Democrats, would he still be in power? Cox asked. “Is he still in town?”

Long-time cart historian

Even in 2019, Cox showed an ongoing interest in learning and an ongoing interest in streetcars. Little known here, but well known to historians and railroad enthusiasts.

At 88 He invited the last known streetcar from Wilkes-Barre to Bout Studio. Swoyersville, The place where it was restored. The Times Leader ‘s story on the visit pointed out that history professors’ long-standing fascination with wagons was probably not surprising.

In his book, Cox wrote “Wyoming Valley Trolley” in 1988, recording a Wilkes-Barre based streetcar system and extending truck tentacles to Nanticoke, Pittston and Lackawanna County. .. His writings on railways also included important reference works on the development of the Philadelphia streetcar system.

Self-respecting humor

Cox can be angry, self-respecting, and eccentric. Qualities on display at the dedication of Dr Harold Cox hole.. When it was his turn to speak, he was dull and smiling when he admitted his first anxiety about stepping on the podium, especially after all the praise from Lee Hee. “What he didn’t tell you is that I have Alzheimer’s disease.

When the university surprised him with a cake and a small party on the porch behind the building, all the guests sang “Happy Birthday”. A distorted sense of humor. “

The walk from the dedication ceremony in front of the building to the party behind took a long time for simple reasons: people kept stopping Cox to rack up praise:

“Now you will always be with us.”

“Do you still hug me when you’re famous?”

“You are indeed royalty. “

He then revealed which part of the honor was the most important. When asked if he liked a building to be named after him, he shrugged a bit and replied, “It’s okay. But when asked how he liked all the attention at the birthday party, he offered a broad smile.

“How nice.”

According to his obituary, Cox was survived by his wife Robert Wright and Excelter’s son, Michael.

Funerals are private and convenient for the family. Interment will be held at Spring Hill Cemetery in Lynchburg, Virginia.

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