The man who guided Mission before and after amalgamation has passed away.
Neville Cox served as mayor of Mission for three years after the Town of Mission merged with the District of Mission in 1970. He was reeve of the district from 1968-1970. He was also instrumental in construction of the Abbotsford-Mission bridge.
He was made a Freeman of the City in 1979, owned a restaurant called the River Boat Inn, wrote columns for this newspaper and numerous other publications, and worked as the executive director of Mission Memorial Hospital from its opening in 1965 until he retired in 1988.
But it was for his passionate speeches on Remembrance Day that many in Mission will remember him. He gave his Thoughts of Remembrance for 32 consecutive years, and his easy-going, conversational style of the speech made it one of the highlights of the ceremony.
Cox was born Dec. 29, 1925 in Chislehurst, Kent, England and grew up there. After matriculation in 1939, he eventually enlisted in the British Navy and served aboard the HMS Argonaut as a petty officer and radar technician from 1944 until 1947. He emigrated to Canada in 1957 with his wife and two daughters, first to Kimberly, then Mission in 1965.
Former MLA and mayor Randy Hawes said he first met Cox in the early 1980s, and got to know the man after seeing him at numerous community events.
“He was one of the biggest jokesters I’ve ever met. He had a funny line about everything,” said Hawes. “He made everyone feel important, and he loved life. If you were around him, you could forget your problems for a while.”
Cox was a member of the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 57, served as president twice, and was granted lifetime membership in 1988.
Fellow Legion member Bert “Knobby” Clark met Cox in 1967, and they were friends since.
“He was a great guy. Very articulate, and a great orator,” said Clark. He most appreciated the Thoughts of Remembrance, and said “he spoke in depth and honoured the veterans.”
Cox passed away May 27, and a celebration of his life will be held Aug. 10 at 1 p.m. at the Clarke Theatre.