R.I.P. KEN COX
A tributeI want to tell you about a great music nut and when I say that, I mean that as one of the greatest compliments I could possibly give a fellow human being. I'm a music nut myself and I have a lot of respect for anyone else who finds themselves so captivated by music that they have to tell the world about it. That's the way that Ken Cox was. He proselytized not just about God in his role as a reverend but also about music in his role as a writer and editor.
by Jason Gross
I met Ken the way many of us meet up nowadays, through the wonder of the Internet. I knew him for a decade- he first contacted me in June 2000 about an article on rockabilly piano player Jason D. Williams. JD himself was very proud of the article and appreciative of Ken's work.
Ken would go on to write ten more articles for PSF over the last decade. Usually, I'd tell writers to go over a story idea first so they wouldn't get discouraged after writing a piece that I couldn't use for Perfect Sound Forever but there was no stopping Ken. He would send in a piece about once year, out of the blue and ask if I could use it, with absolutely no recriminations if I couldn't. I think with only one exception, everything he sent was on the mark and wound up in PSF. He picked up on the mag's vibe pretty quickly and knew how his interests and subjects would fit in. Whenever I'd get an e-mail from him with an attachment, the subject would simply say "New Article" and I would always be anxious to see what he came up with each time.
But Ken being Ken, he was willing to give even more of himself to PSF. Several years ago, when I was looking for a few hearty souls to help with editing PSF material, I turned to Ken because of his scholastic background. He was more than happy to help out, editing an article per issue right up to 2010. He was also enthused to do it, turning around the work quickly and writing back with exclamation marks ("Hey Jason!") as if to say that he loved doing this. If you've ever enjoyed an issue of PSF, it's likely that you also enjoyed Ken's work as a writer or editor.
For his own articles, because Ken had an academic background and obviously wrote quite a bit otherwise, his work usually required pretty light editing. Whenever I had a question or comment about one of his articles, he was quick to respond, very easy to work with and always open to suggestions. Basically, he was the kind of writer that editors dream of.
Sad to say, I only spoke to him on a phone once, a few years ago. He was a very bright, cheery guy- a pleasure to speak to. I thanked him profusely for all of his wonderful work that he did and he actually thanked me back for giving him a forum for his work. We talked of visiting each other one of these days and unfortunately, that never happened.
The last piece we worked on was last summer where he wrote about the Oak Ridge Boys, appearing in the Aug 2009 edition of PSF. The band's management was extremely appreciative of the article, noting it on their official website, which was something that Ken was very proud of.
The last article he sent me (again, out of the blue, with no previous discussion) was about roller derby music, saying "If you can use the attached article, please do so." It was a topic that I wouldn't have even dreamt of for PSF but because it was so wonderfully off-the-wall and in the spirit of the magazine, I had to run it. The only problem was that when he sent it, on March 3rd, the next issue was already filled. I broke the news to him and asked if it was OK to run it in the following issue. As usual, he was totally sweet and understanding about it, writing back in the most enthusiastic way the same day: "Absolutely; include it whenever you'd like. Thanks!" That would have been the last time I heard from him.
Then on March 27th, I received this e-mail from a friend of his, Mackie Adams:
"I was just writing to both inform you and express my condolences about the passing of one of your writers, Rev. Ken Cox of Dillon. He was my instructor at the school he taught at and I remembered that he was a writer for the site. I'm not sure if you already knew about this, but if you didn't, I just wanted to inform you, as we are all saddened and shocked by his sudden and untimely death."
Even reading that again now, I get a little choked up thinking about Ken. I miss him not just for his wonderful work but also for the infectious enthusiasm he had for all facets of music.
As a way to honor Ken and his work, we at PSF wanted to present a collection of all of the articles that Ken did for this publication, including that last one about roller derby music. You'll see the range of his interests, including a punk-pop girl band and a best-selling country vocal group. And if any of his work piques or deepens your interest about these artists, isn't that one of the best legacies that Ken could have hoped for?
- Jason D. Williams
- Lauren Talley
- Country Murder Songs
- Rock and Roll and Literature
- Becky Hobbs
- Be Good Tanyas
- Happy Goodman Family
- The Donnas
- Oak Ridge Boys
- Roller Derby
For another perspective on Ken and his work, we asked an old friend of his to chime in also about him.
Here's some things that you should know about Ken. He was a native of Dillon, South Carolina, born May 29, 1956, the son of Ilene Braswell Cox and the late Julius Cox, Jr.. The preacher was also a graduate of Francis Marion University (in Florence) and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (in Wake Forest, NC). He was also the author of 2 books. He was a teacher at Florence Darlington Technical College for 26 years, and the preacher at Beulah Baptist Church (in Hamer, South Carolina) for 26 years.
He died at age 53 on Tuesday, March 23, 2010, at McLeod Medical Center in Dillon, SC, and was buried Friday, March 26, 2010 in Greenlawn Cemetery.
I am sure that others are far more capable of listing the facts of all his doings and accomplishments than I. However, to me, Kenneth Cox was not someone who could be contained on a page listing the facts and accomplishments of his life.
Kenneth Cox was the only preacher I have ever had. You hear people talk about "their preacher," but it is often only a pronoun with no true meaning. Kenneth Cox was "my preacher". Actually, as far as I was concerned, he was "the Preacher," and that is what I have always called him. More than that though, he was my friend, my role-model, my encourager.
The Preacher was always there when I needed help, and I am sure that I am not the only one who took his presence for granted. Every year when school started, the Preacher would buy school supplies for me and every other "student" in the church. It didnít matter to him how old you were. If you were a student, then he wanted to encourage you to be a good student and to go as far as possible. He did not stop with encouragement though; he was prepared to help you become a better student and a better person.
I can not possibly begin to count the number of papers the Preacher proofread for me, and though he often handed them back looking as if someone had bled on them, he always told me how well done they were, how I was getting better every time I brought a paper to him, and that he hoped I would continue getting better. His encouragement and, believe it or not, having my papers critiqued so thoroughly is one of the reasons I have become a better writer and still seek to become even better. You see, I wanted to be able to give him a paper that would receive no marks, and I wanted to be able to recognize the mistakes as well as he could, so that I could help others.
It is true. I have lost my preacher, my teacher, my friend, my role-model, and my encourager. However, the preacher helped me get a good start, and I know that I will do just fine. After all, he would expect nothing less, and I am sure that when I see him again, he will be just as interested as ever to hear all about what has been happening in my life and in the lives of all his other friends and loved ones.
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