What can a person predict by using a No. 2 pencil, a needle and a thread?
In the case of Frank Cox, former police chief of West Jefferson, it was predicting childbirth well before the sonogram. Cox, who had been police chief for 26 of the 46 years he was on the village’s police force, passed away Tuesday, April 8. He was 80.
Current West Jefferson police chief Terry Ward witnessed the phenomenon in his own family. Cox employed the technique, dangling the pencil, suspended from the eraser with the needle’s point therein, over the wrist of Ward’s first wife. Upon reading the movement of the pencil, Cox said she would bear a son and a daughter in that order.
“People would stop in and have him do it,” Ward said.
His baby-predicting ability aside, Cox who spent 46 years on the village police force — 26 as its chief — brought a presence to the position, which Ward said was a continuation of the “spit and polish” of his days in the U.S. Marine Corps. He took pride in his appearance while in uniform. Both Ward and his predecessor, Dennis Gates said, “You don’t step on his shoes.”
Gates worked with Cox from the time the former hired on in 1978 until Cox’s retirement in 2005. For most of that time, from April of 1979 onward Cox was Gates’ chief. Gates called him a mentor to him and other patrolmen.
Cox allowed his officers to do their jobs with an apparent minimum of micro managing.
“You worked with him rather than for him,” Gates said. “He would guide you in something and if you got stuck he’d help you. He’d give you the reins and he’d make sure you took care of the problem. He was a great chief and good person, good friend.”
Chief Ward said Cox was a good judge of character. While working part time for Perry Township in Franklin County in 1984, Ward said he’d heard West Jefferson was hiring law enforcement officers.
When he arrived at the police department, Ward found Cox in the dispatcher’s chair. He told him he was interested in a job and Cox invited him back to talk.
“We talked for an hour or so and then he said, ‘Can you start Monday?’” Ward said.
Some weeks thereafter Cox got around to having Ward follow protocol and told him to fill out an application.
“He knew how to read people,” Ward said. “He was a good judge of character.”
Ward said when Cox left the office for the day, he left his work there. He described Cox as a good family man who was private about his life away from the police station.
Ron Garver, council member, at times would ride with Chief Cox, who would display a playful side. Garver recalled a time while he was riding with Cox, the dispatcher called out to his cruiser for a radio check, explaining it was an hourly exercise to check radio.
When the call-out to Cox’s vehicle came, he replied unit one OK.
“Then he handed me the radio,” Garver said. “I said unit 55 OK.” That reply apparently puzzled the dispatcher on the other end. But Garver had adopted that number as it was his jersey number when he played Roughrider football.
“It was Cox’s little joke on the dispatcher,” Garver said.
Funeral arrangements for Cox are on page 3 of today’s Madison Press.
Dean Shipley may be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 17 or via Twitter @DeanAShipley.