Today’s Elder Corner is another installment in our elders’ series, focusing on Richard Cox. I’m going to quote his entire article in his words—who I am to improve on an English teacher’s writing?!
“I was born and raised in Beaumont and all my early education was in the South Park school system. I had a lot of wonderful teachers there. I graduated from high school, missing being the valedictorian by 0.07 of a point, in the era of Sputnik; my strongest interests were in math and chemistry, so I majored in chemical engineering at Lamar University, which was just down the street from my high school. It was not my best decision. If I’d stayed in math or chemistry, that is where I probably would have remained. I persisted long enough to earn a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and even graduated third in my engineering class.
When I began graduate studies in Ch. E. at the University of Texas, my fundamental lack of interest in engineering became a roadblock I couldn’t get around. When I thought over my academic history, I realized the courses I’d most enjoyed were the English classes, so I changed my major and moved forward on that degree. I did academic work nine months of the year and then went back to Beaumont to work summers at the local ice company on the front dock or delivering bagged ice to local convenience stores for twelve hours a day.
I met Patty at the University Avenue Bible Chair. We dated for a year and were engaged for two years while I finished my degree. Back then, when a couple became engaged at the Bible Chair, the tradition was to dunk the guy in Littlefield Fountain on campus. So, I was manhandled, dragged two blocks and unceremoniously thrown in the fountain. We were married in her home church in Houston (Southwest) in 1963, lived that summer in Beaumont and in September moved to Durham, N.C. where I was a James B. Duke Fellow at Duke University for a year while I worked on my master’s degree. Patty took classes at UNC and worked in the Duke chemistry department.
We moved to Des Moines, Iowa, in 1964, where I taught at Drake University and Patty went to school at Iowa State University. We were there two years and adopted our son Kendall just before we came back to Austin for me to start on a Ph.D.
We came to Abilene and the ACU English Department in 1971 when I was ABD. We were members of UCC from that time forward. I had never been part of such a friendly church nor met Christians who were so overtly serious about their faith. Over the years I was also astonished at the generosity of the members when money was needed for any good work. Patty worked for MH/MR for a while and then for UCC as Bob Douglas’ secretary. Eventually, she decided to train as a teacher at ACU. From the first, she taught Bible classes at UCC; she was also the founding director of our Rainbow Bible School.
I finished my Ph.D. in 1976. By then, we had adopted our daughter Sadie. Patty worked several years at Abilene Christian Schools and then transferred to AISD. She always taught the ages she loved, kindergarten and first grade. I became a deacon at UCC in 1988 and an elder in 1992. In the 1990s I was also very active in my professional organizations, becoming president of one of them for the state of Texas.
I retired in 2003 and Patty retired in 2008; she went on to be with the Lord last year. We always enjoyed traveling together and going to plays. My hobbies include reading and photography. About 2003 I began teaching a Bible class and they have continued to put up with me since then. That class is the ministry most special to me. I have also delivered Meals on Wheels, off and on, for nineteen years, since 1988.
I think we at UCC can be anything for the Lord that we want to be, but we need to love each other, seeking always to take the gospel to a world that needs it and looking around us for the good works Scripture (Eph. 2:10) says God has prepared in advance for us to do.”
I appreciate Richard for his calm steadiness and reliability, his thoughtful comments, and his sense of humor. He has been secretary of the elders for longer than I remember! I am glad to know Richard and serve with him.
– Steve Austin