WEST BOUNTIFUL — Tiana Maea remembers her grandfather as being very smart.
“Whenever you wanted to know something, you just went to him,” she said. “He was like your encyclopedia.”
Jeff Hutchings remembers his stepfather as someone who was “a teacher in every sense of the word.”
Carolyn Cox remembers her husband as someone who would stop everything if someone had a question that needed to be answered, who taught a love of reading to his students and who inspired others to be teachers.
But it was because of a tribute written by one of his students that Robert Cox received a posthumous honor last week.
Tom Tripp had Cox as a teacher when in eighth grade at South Davis Junior High in 1966.
In a letter nominating him for a “Teacher Feature” award presented weekly by KSL-radio, Tripp remembered Cox as a teacher who “had a presence that caught (maybe demanded) our attention.”
Cox “had clear expectations for attention, behavior and performance,” said Tripp, and he instilled disciplined thinking and created confidence.
He helped students build vocabulary, improve their grammar and punctuation and think creatively, and he introduced literature as just “really good stories,” said Tripp.
“Mr. Cox saved me and many others,” he wrote, admitting that he and others in the class may have been considered troublemakers by others.
“It was a turning point in my life,” he said. “I learned to study and succeed at school. I learned to behave and have some social responsibility.”
Hundreds of letters are received for the award, according to Amanda Dickson of KSL.
When Cox was selected, it was Ruth Norton, special events coordinator for Zions Bank, who set out to contact him about the award. Zions co-sponsors the award.
Norton located the family and called to let them know of the award, only to learn that the day of her call was the day of Robert Cox’s funeral.
It was devastating, she said.
Cox had collapsed while shoveling snow on Jan. 11. He was 85 years old.
The award and prizes were presented to his wife as friends and family who gathered for the recognition looked on.
“This is really an honor for him,” said Carolyn Cox, in accepting the award on his behalf. “I wish he could be here and I think he really is. I’m grateful that I had a part of his life and that we have those memories to go on.”
At the conclusion of the program honoring his memory, Norton said: “I don’t think he’s done teaching. I think there’s a lot of Robert Cox going on here and he will be teaching for a long time through his wonderful friends and family.”