OBITUARY: Bobby Cox

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Bobby Cox

Robert Clifton “Bobby” Cox, Jr. originally of Columbus, Ohio, but so well known in Mt. Juliet that his friends describe him as de facto mayor of the town, died peacefully in his sleep on Aug. 26, 2021, surrounded by his family. He was 78.

Bobby, as he was known by everyone in this small town just east of Music City, was a great dad and rock star bass player who jammed out with his buddies in small clubs in and around Wilson County for more than 30 years. When the time came to settle down, Bobby and his bandmates took up their hybrid country/blues/rockabilly sound in Bobby’s basement in the Belinda City neighborhood, where countless friends and family routinely gathered to listen, laugh, and enjoy being together.

“No matter where we would go, he would know people,” said longtime friend and bandmate Mickey Darby, who wrote a song called “Bobby’s Basement” to honor his friend. At one favorite venue, Darby recalled, “People would come up to him and say, ‘We really like your club, or that’s a great band you manage.’ He would just get to know everybody. People thought he was in charge.”

And he often was.

Even if he didn’t have the formal education or job title to go along with it, people saw in Bobby a leader, someone they could count on. A loyal husband to Edna Petty Cox for 45 years and dedicated father to Shane, Lisa, and Ryan, Bobby was also the “second father” to untold numbers of his children’s friends as well as kids at Stoner Creek Elementary where he worked doing all kinds of construction and maintenance projects over the years.

“Bobby could be found at Stoner Creek pretty much daily. He was the one who put wiring in for our computers, he helped teachers set up their classrooms, he moved classrooms from one hallway to another after we discovered we were in the wrong place, he fixed so many broken chairs, tables and desks we couldn’t count them all, he chaperoned field trips and school events, and he drove teachers’ children to the junior high. Most importantly, he was there to provide encouragement, a shoulder to lean on, a smile, or a joke to brighten everyone’s day,” said former Stoner Creek Elementary Principal Kathy Stivender. “He will be missed.”

Lebanon City Councilor Jeni Lind Townzen Brinkman, who grew up down the street from the Cox family with Bobby’s daughter, Lisa, credits Bobby for teaching her to have fun and take smart chances.

“Bobby was a dad to all of us who were lucky enough to know his kids. He reminded me that childhood was about making memories, taking chances, and most importantly, having fun and saving the seriousness for later in life but still keeping the kid in you alive,” Brinkman said.

Bobby’s own children grew up to become skilled professionals, community leaders, and wonderful parents. When asked what they took from their father, they answered the question collectively:

“He always viewed the world as good and trusted everyone. He saw the good in everyone he met. He taught us to see everyone in a positive light. He was willing to get to know everyone he met and create friendships and bonds with them. It didn’t matter if you knew him for minutes or years, he was just as genuine and loyal. And he always taught us to be loyal and help anyone in need whenever you can. His heart was one of service. He taught us to always smile, laugh, find joy, love unconditionally, and to always say I love you every chance you get,” said Shane Cox, Lisa Vickrey, and Ryan Cox.

In recent weeks, Bobby’s health had declined after a series of strokes. But he maintained his sense of humor and love of life. Said Dave Baggett, who met Bobby in 1975 when they began playing music together, “When we went over to visit him two weeks ago, he laughed and stuck his tongue out at me.”

After all the fun and games, though, Bobby was simply just there for people.

“He wouldn’t leave people up a creek without a paddle,” said Doug Baggett, David’s nephew, and preacher at Jesus Only Tabernacle Church where Bobby attended services.

“He was the paddle.”

Bobby is survived by his wife of 45 years, Edna Cox; children, Timothy Shane (Pam) Cox, Lisa (Todd) Vickrey, and Ryan (Megan) Cox; grandchildren, Kellan Vickrey, Gavin Cox, Rowan Cox, and Camden Cox; siblings, Roger (Dorothy) Cox, Joyce Phipps, Johnny (Kayla) Cox, Mickie Long, Mike (Anita) Popovich, and Eileen Popovich; sisters, Sandra Barbier (Lewis), Carol Moore (Eric), Lonnie Petty (Brenda) and countless extended family, friends and fellow musicians. He was preceded in death by father, Robert Cox Sr., and mother, Evelyn Popovich; his “Mama”, Elizabeth Petty; sisters, Carolyn Pruitt, Sharon Rice, and Mary Ann Cox; brothers, Floyd Petty and Lester Petty; and sisters, Willie Bell Chapman and Judy Wilson.

A family visitation for Bobby Cox will be held at Jesus Only Tabernacle, 324 Glenrose Avenue, Nashville on Aug. 31 from 9-10 a.m. A public visitation will follow from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. on Aug. 31, followed by a funeral service at 1 p.m. at the church. Interment following the service at Mt Juliet Memorial Gardens with Todd Vickrey, Scott Roberts, Mark Petty, Chase Barbier, Steve Warrick, Canaan Morse, DJ Chaffin, and Tony Chapman serving as pallbearers. Honorary Pallbearers are Chris Warrick, Mickey Darby, Dave Baggett, and Mark Maynard.

Arrangements by Sellars Funeral Home at Mt. Juliet, 2229 N. Mt. Juliet Road, Mt. Juliet, TN 37122, 615-758-5459, obituary line 615-758-8818, www.sellarsfuneralservices.com

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