Gene Calhoun Cox, 75, embraced his Lord and Savior, face to face, on Friday, June 3, 2022 at home.
As he exhaled this earthly journey and drew in his first breath of Heaven, the family and Reverend Lisa Courtney of Hospice were surrounding him and singing two of his favorite hymns: "Sweet Hour of Prayer" and "Will There Be Any Stars in My Crown." It was a worship-filled, peaceful transition into the arms of his Creator. As promised, Gene has been gloriously reunited with his parents, brother, cousins, and very special friend/son Joe Alan Collum. Gene's body has been made new and strong once again! The family envisions that at his passing, Gene eagerly began playing a golden banjo at the feet of Jesus, divinely and uniquely hand-crafted for him by his Heavenly Father.
Gene was born in Shelby, NC on December 19, 1946, to George Carl Cox and Dessie Roberts Cox. He graduated from Shelby High School, Western Carolina University (BS in Industrial Technology), and Gardner-Webb College (MA in Education). He was a life-long educator and retired as Dean of Allied Services at Cleveland Community College (CCC). Education was not only a profession for Gene; it was a lifestyle. Numerous former students have approached the family and expressed what a wonderful teacher, encourager, and advocate he was; and how he made an unforgettable impact on their lives.
Gene married his high school sweetheart, Sherri Lee, in 1967. The two have been best friends since they were 14-year-olds and were married for 55 short years. Gene and Sherri, with Jesus Christ as captain, crafted an extraordinary life together. Their legacies of love, creativity, teamwork, and thought-provoking conversations have been deeply instilled in their three daughters and six grandchildren. Gene and Sherri also shared with family and countless others the gifts of music, laughter, wisdom, and second-to-none fellowship. They were very involved in their church and heavily invested in youth programs and mission trips. Together, they discipled and encouraged many young people in the church and surrounding community. Gene never met a stranger and was boundlessly generous with his time, talents, and resources. A beloved friend recently wrote to one of Gene's daughters: "The world would be a better place if we could all be more like Gene."
At a young age, Gene developed a deep love of horses and nature. As a youth, he spent most days outside playing in the woods, cultivating his imagination, and riding horses. He passed on this love and admiration of God's creation, imaginative thinking, and lofty daydreaming to his daughters and grandchildren.
Gene vibrantly lived his great love of music--especially bluegrass. He got his first guitar as a teenager and soon discovered he had a gift for songwriting. Gene has written hundreds of lyrics in his lifetime--some he has set to music and some he has not. Gene sang, played the guitar, banjo, and mandolin. He has picked and grinned with countless folks: dear friends at church, in the community, and perfect strangers, all tied together by the strings of their instruments and the harmony of life. Gene was a top finalist in the Don Gibson Songwriting contest for "The Livermush Song" and has been featured on Sandy Carlton's podcast "Big Sound, Small Town." A favorite memory of Gene's family is when he often played Pete Wernick's tune, "Lost in the Woods" on his banjo--on the front porch after dark--as Sherri and the girls drifted off to dream.
An upshot to Gene's lifelong insomnia was that minimal sleep allowed him the time and opportunity to accomplish much in his 75 glorious years! His journey included: Thirty years as an instructor, curriculum developer, and Dean of Allied Services at CCC; creator, Program Chairman, and host of "Clips of Cleveland County;" Supervisor of Development for Cleveland Educational Project at the local prison; and a NC Licensed General, Electrical, and Plumbing and Heating Contractor. Gene was a volunteer for the A.C.T.I.V.E Program of Cleveland County Schools (countless banjo, guitar, clogging, and magic show performances); Publicity Chairman for Habitat for Humanity and builder of the first Habitat House in Mooresboro; Coordinator for Performing Arts in Cleveland County; Visiting Artists Coordinator for CCC; Cleveland County Fair youth talent search volunteer; and a provider of entertainment for residents in local nursing care facilities.
Gene was a former member, deacon, and moderator at Elizabeth Baptist Church and is a current member and former deacon at Boiling Springs Baptist Church (BSBC). At BSBC, Gene was a Sunday School teacher, Chairman of the Building/Grounds Committee, and Chairman of the Youth Committee.
Gene was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, Carl Lester Cox. He is survived by his wife, Sherri, three daughters, and their husbands: Amy Harrelson (Robert); Jennifer Owens (Reid); and Erin Farrington (Colt). Gene is also survived by his cherished former son-in-law, Cliff Johnson; beloved brother-in-law (like a son) Mark Lee; and dearest lifelong friends Ron Blackwell, Pat Stringer, and Roddy Turner. Some of the brightest lights and grandest joys in Gene's life were his grandchildren: Sarah Johnson, Lila Johnson, Dessie Ann Greene, Rachel Farrington, Bella Rose Farrington, and Caden Gene Farrington. The family will forever cling to the prayers he lifted on behalf of each one.
The family would like to especially thank Dr. Richard Cambareri, Jessie Blanton Listoe, RN, and staff at Levine Cancer Institute for several years of unparalleled professionalism, expertise, sensitivity, and attention to Gene's medical needs as well as the needs of the family. Gene's family would also like to thank Debbie Roberts, RN, Terri Isaacs, NP, Reverend Lisa Courtney, and others of Hospice Cleveland County for their extensive loving care, gentle hands, prayer, and tender guidance at the bedside.
The Celebration of Gene's Life will be held on Saturday, June 11, 2022 at 3pm at Boiling Springs Baptist Church. The family will receive friends in the Life Enrichment Center prior to the service from 1:30pm to 2:45pm. A private graveside service will be held at Elizabeth Baptist Church.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Hospice of Cleveland County, 951 Wendover Heights Drive, Shelby, NC 28150; and the Cleveland Community College Foundation "Gene C. Cox Memorial Scholarship Fund," 137 South Post Road, Shelby, NC 28150.
"The degree of our loss is in direct proportion to the greatness of the one whose loss we mourn." -a dear friend of the Cox family
Online condolences may be made at www.cecilmburtonfuneralhome.com
Cecil M. Burton Funeral Home is serving the family of Gene Cox
Cecil M. Burton Funeral Home & Crematory
106 Cherryville Rd Shelby, NC 28150