OBITUARY

Ernie Lee Cox Sr.

January 17, 1952February 26, 2021
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I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7

On Friday, February 26, 2021, God called his name and Ernie Lee Cox, Sr., age 69, of Jonesborough, Tennessee answered, receiving divine healing after a battle with cancer with his family by his side. He fought his cancer as hard as he could, but it wasn’t part of God’s plan for him to be cured. He turned everything over to God and peacefully went to be with Him and is waiting for the rest of us to meet him at the feet of Jesus.

Ernie was born to Mary Lee Cox Arrowood and Harrison “Dagwood” Arrowood on January 17, 1952, his dad preceded him in death in June 1977 and his mother preceded him in death in July 1996. He was also preceded in death by three brothers, Gene Arrowood, Conley Arrowood, and Willie F. Arrowood in March 2015; and one uncle, Fred Morrison. He was a graduate of Jonesboro High School (1971).

He is survived by his loving wife of 50 years, Debra Kay Quillen Cox. His children Ernie “Lee” Jr. and wife Dawn Cox of Gray, and Christie Dawn and husband Chad Cooper of Kingsport. Ernie was a great dad to his two children Lee and Christie. He loved them both so very much. He was always there for them whenever they needed something and provided strong, loving, truthful guidance to them and his grandchildren and he absolutely adored his great grandchildren. He leaves his grandchildren Anthony and wife Brittany Cox, Lita Cox, Brandon Arnett and fiancé Amanda Halverson, Brittani Arnett, Bradley and wife Christian Arnett, Samantha Cooper and Cara Cooper. The light of his life his great grandchildren, Brayden Cox, Carter Cox, Kyleigh Barnes, Brantley Arnett, Kelly Blake Arnett, Bradley Thomas and Emery Halverson. Ernie is also survived by his beloved sister, Shirley Ann Cox of the home. He also leaves one special sister-in-law, Virginia Arrowood, a nephew Kenny and wife Melissa Arrowood, 2 great nephews K.J. and William, and 1 great niece Karliee Arrowood all of Johnson City. He also leaves behind several cousins and close friends.

He retired from A O Smith Inc., (formerly American Water Heater) after 23 years of service and TPI after 5 years of service.

Ernie invited the Lord into his heart on Saturday night January 16, 1975 at Westerly Heights Baptist Church (Johnson City) during a gospel concert by the McGlothlin Family. He testified the next morning at church that it was his best birthday ever and always told of that experience when asked to share his testimony. He was a member of Southside Baptist Church (Johnson City) where he served as a deacon and a member of the House and Grounds Committee. He was an inactive member of the church at the time of his passing but had been attending First Baptist Church, Jonesborough, while he was physically able.

Ernie’s favorite pastime was playing and/or coaching softball. He is well known in the community for his love of the game and the speed with which he ran infield and outfield. During his early years of playing softball, he was given the nickname of “Big E” by which he is still known to many. Ernie was a diehard Dallas Cowboys fan regardless of the season they were having. He taught the grandchildren and great grandchildren to stick their pointer finger up and say, “Dallas Cowboys number 1” and it was understood that Granddad gave them all their very first drink of Pepsi.

At Ernie’s request, he will be cremated and the family will receive friends from 5:00 PM until 7:00 PM Wednesday, March 3, 2021 at Strong Tower Baptist Church. A Memorial Service will follow at 7:00 PM with Pastor Darrell Slagle and Rev. Ancel Presnell officiating. Music will be provided by one of his adopted sons, Bobby Stout.

The family would like to extend special thanks to Dr. Paul Brown, Dr. Stanley Hodges, Lauren Snapp FNP, and Christy Rankin, LPN and the staff of Johnson City Internal Medicine. Also a special thank you to Devin, Linda, Pam, and Crystal of Amedisys Home Health and Hospice for all the loving care that you provided to Ernie during his illness. You are the best healthcare providers we have ever known and have been blessed knowing you.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be sent to the Strong Tower Baptist Church, Christian School Building Fund, 1022 Old Stage Road, Gray, TN 37615.

Arrangements especially for Mr. Ernie Lee Cox, Sr. and his family have been made through Monte Vista Funeral Home & Memorial Park, 1900 E. Oakland Avenue, Johnson City, TN; 423-282-2631.

  • FAMILY

  • Debra Kay Quillen Cox, Wife
  • Ernie "Lee" Cox, Jr. and wife Dawn, Son and Daughter-in-law
  • Christie Dawn Cooper and husband Chad, Daughter and Son-in-law
  • Anthony Cox and wife Brittany, Grandson
  • Lita Cox, Granddaughter
  • Brandon Arnett and fiance Amanda Halverson, Grandson
  • Brittani Arnett, Granddaughter
  • Bradley Arnett and wife Christian, Grandson
  • Samantha Cooper, Granddaughter
  • Cara Cooper, Granddaughter
  • Brayden Cox, Great Grandson
  • Carter Cox, Great Grandson
  • Kyleigh Barnes, Great Granddaughter
  • Brantley Arnett, Great Grandson
  • Kelly Blake Arnett, Great Granddaughter
  • Bradley Thomas, Great Grandson
  • Emery Halverson, Great Granddaughter
  • Shirley Ann Cox, Beloved Sister
  • Virginia Arrowood, Special Sister-in-law
  • Kenny Arrowood and wife Melissa, Nephew
  • K.J. and William, Great Nephews
  • Karliee Arrowood, Great Niece

Services

  • Visitation

    Wednesday, March 3, 2021

  • Memorial Service

    Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Memories

Ernie Lee Cox Sr.

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Judy Lester

March 1, 2021

I had the pleasure of meeting Ernie a few years back and he was an especially nice man and loved his family dearly. Debbie and Christy you and your entire family are in my prayers.

Donna Hall Cox

March 1, 2021

I have known Ernie all my life. He was always so sweet. My best memories are going to school together, playing ball behind Asbury School when we were young and talking to him when ball was played behind The boys club. He had the kindest heart. Prayers prayed for his whole family.

Carol Livingston

February 28, 2021

To my friend Debbie that I have known for probably 30 years and always admired, I know your pain since I lost my husband this past summer, that God will be with you every step of the way, he will guide you, lead you and provide for you... I know this passing is bittersweet, you no longer have to watch him suffer and we can find peace knowing that he's in a new body free of pain just waiting for you, his children and his grandchildren... May God bless you and give you that peace that only he can give

Penny Watkins

February 27, 2021

I told Christie about her Dad climbing up a walnut tree to get my cat down, he had on white Jean's and of course they were smudged. Ernie was about 15 years old then. He shimmied up that tree, got my cat down that had been up there for 2 days.....he was a caring person then and made a little girl very happy. I am so sorry for the loss of such a wonderful human being. He left behind a beautiful family. He will never be fogotten!

Tyrone Henry

February 27, 2021

I remember Ernie as being a great guy and he could really throw a hard snowball. I met him when i was in the foster home his in laws were running. A tear of sadness, also a tear of joy knowing he is in heaven.

Yvette del Pino

February 27, 2021

A short note of condolences to the family of Ernie Lee Cox. You can find comfort in each other and from the words stated by Jesus Christ at John 5:28, 29 - "Do not be amazed at this, for the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life........" Surely, this is a time to look forward to when all mankind will truly look to the Creator for comfort. Also, reflect on the wonderful memories you would have shared with Ernie and look to the day when you will welcome him back in the grand resurrection purposed for mankind.
Once again, sincere condolences.
Regards
Yvette del Pino

FROM THE FAMILY

Ernie - February 16, 2019

FROM THE FAMILY

Our Wedding Day October 3, 1970

FROM THE FAMILY

The beginning of our story

FROM THE FAMILY

So Happy

FROM THE FAMILY

Ernie - February 16, 2019

FROM THE FAMILY

Our Wedding Day October 3, 1970

FROM THE FAMILY

The beginning of our story

FROM THE FAMILY

So Happy

FROM THE FAMILY

Ernie, age 9 months old

FROM THE FAMILY

Mary Lee, Harrison, Shirley, and Ernie

FROM THE FAMILY

Ernie at age 2

FROM THE FAMILY

Ernie elementary school

FROM THE FAMILY

Ernie High School Senior 1970-71
Jonesboro High School

FROM THE FAMILY

Harrison, Ernie & Shirley, Indian Reservation

Biography

“Seeing is believing.” For many, those words simply represent a motto. But for Ernie Lee Cox Sr., it summarized in every way who he was. He was modest, quiet and observant, taking in everything around him and always thinking before acting. He was a realist, someone who was efficient and practical in everything he did. He was a friendly person who truly cared about those around him.

      Ernie was born on January 17, 1952 at Hamblem Hospital in Morristown, Tennessee. He was the son of Harrison "Dogwood" Arrowood and Mary Lee Cox. Raised in Johnson City, Tennessee, he was brought up to be tolerant and trustworthy. As a child, he learned to be conscientious, responsible and punctual. These were all traits that he would carry with him throughout his life.

      As a young boy, Ernie was always aware of how others around him felt and this quality served him well. With a deep capacity to tolerate the feelings of others, Ernie was generally able to avoid conflicts. It seemed as if Ernie was the family member who was always working to keep stress at bay. Preferring a quiet environment where he could concentrate, Ernie also had the ability to relate well with his family and friends. Ernie was raised with one sister. He had one older sister, Shirley Ann Cox. Ernie was constantly involved in activities with his family. Ernie and his siblings had the typical rivalries while growing up but they deeply cared for each other and shared many life experiences over the years.

      Growing up, Ernie was one of those children who didn’t need to be in the center of a whirlwind of activity. He was content to entertain himself. Ernie was never pushy when it came to games and other activities, but rather, he was able to enjoy the pure fun these could bring. In just about everything he did as a child, Ernie was intent on pleasing both the adults and the other children around him. Ernie took part in a number of activities as a child. He took part in baseball and riding bikes.

      Ernie enjoyed learning. He always had a great memory and was particularly skilled at retaining factual information. Ernie was generally quiet in class, learning best through observation. He often showed great concentration and was competent at completing the tasks at hand. Good with details, Ernie was painstaking and accurate in his efforts. All of these talents culminated in a successful high school career. He graduated from Jonesboro High School in 1971. Ernie enjoyed some courses more than others, having favorite subjects and teachers. His favorite class in high school was shop. The teacher he enjoyed learning from the most was Mrs. Silvers.

      Most folks would say that Ernie was shy until they got to know him. Those who were privileged to know him well learned that he was a solid, good friend. Ernie was reluctant to generalize about people, and he based his friendships on his personal experiences. Because of this, Ernie best trusted those people that he truly knew. He was concerned about how those around him felt, and he always seemed to uncover the positive side of people. He could relate to others and had the ability to see their point of view, to “walk a mile in their shoes,” as the saying goes. The friends that he made, Ernie kept. While growing up, some of his best friends were Gary Conner, Leo Laws, and Roger Davidson. Later in life, he became friends with Gary Conner, and Marty Young.

      Love can’t be defined but must be experienced. That was so true for Ernie. On October 3, 1970 Ernie married Debra Kay Quillen at 2602 First Street, Home of Brides Parents of Johnson City, Tennessee. He was totally committed to Debra and maintained traditional ideals about marriage. It was as if Ernie naturally sensed his spouse’s needs, and accepted those feelings unconditionally. Although Ernie disliked conflict, he did not take flight from discord, but rather sought to preserve harmony even during the most trying times.

      Ernie was a good father to his children. He had “old fashioned” parental values and could handle typical family conflicts in a fair and calm manner. Because he trusted emotions, Ernie was reluctant to force issues and used gentle persuasion to resolve situations. In this way he seemed to radiate an aura of warmth and caring to those around him, always thinking before acting. In addition, Ernie was a master planner. No matter how hectic life around him might be, he seemed to know and track everyone’s schedule. Ernie was blessed with two children, one son, Ernie Lee Cox, Jr. and one daughter, Christie Dawn Cooper. They were also blessed with five grandchildren, Anthony, Lita, Brandon, Brittani, and Bradley.

      If you gave Ernie a deadline, he would meet it. At work, Ernie was always on task. Without hesitation, Ernie could adhere to any assignment and see it through to its completion. His primary occupation was Machine Operator. He was employed for American Water Heater for 23 years. During that time, Ernie excelled in working with small groups in order to complete assignments. He was able to quickly grasp concrete ideas and could organize and plan the best way to accomplish things with remarkable consistency. Ernie was good at staying on track and was considerate in listening to what others had to say. In this way, Ernie had a true gift for being able to come up with practical resolutions to difficult problems. He was often the team member who managed to put forth a win/win solution for all parties.

      Ernie liked to experience things first hand, in addition to simply learning about them. This quality influenced Ernie's choice of leisure time activities. A methodical and patient worker, Ernie preferred to set aside uninterrupted time to work on his hobbies. His favorite pursuits were playing softball and wood working. Ernie was content to sit quietly alone, enjoying his hobbies all by himself and could often be found just reading about his favorite pastimes.

      While thorough and measured in his approach to things, Ernie often liked to physically do things rather than just think about them. He was like that with sports. Recreational sports included softball. He also enjoyed the statistical data and the facts behind the sports. In this way, he was something of a sports fan and enjoyed watching his favorite teams whenever he got the opportunity. Tops on his list were baseball and football.

      An individual who respected and maintained traditional values, his faith was important to Ernie. His compassion, consideration and sympathy toward others was evident in his personal beliefs. He was a member of Southside Baptist Church for 32 years. During that time, he was a deacon and member of the house and grounds committee.

      Anyone who traveled or went on vacation with Ernie had smooth sailing. It was often taken for granted that he was the trip planner. He would start early and examine all of the possibilities, selecting the best and most effective options. Favorite vacations included Myrtle Beach.

      Ernie had Skeeter, Beasley, Pixie - Yorkie Shitzu, who was his best friend for 14 years. His family was rounded out by his cat, Sabby. Ernie was as loyal to his pets as they were to him.

      When Ernie's retirement finally arrived in 2014, he was well prepared. He had taken the time to learn about his various options and chose his course wisely. His new life involved staying in Johnson City, Tenneseee. In retirement, he found new pleasure in wood working. Even in retirement, Ernie continued to stay in touch with his old friends while making plenty of new acquaintances. He was active in the community and felt fulfilled with the opportunities retirement offered him.

      Ernie passed away on February 26, 2021 at his home, 412 Matson Road, Jonesborough, Tennessee. Ernie fought lung and liver cancer for 8 months. He is survived by loving wife of 50 years, Debra Kay Quillen Cox. His children Ernie “Lee” Jr. and wife Dawn Cox of Gray, and Christie Dawn and husband Chad Cooper of Kingsport. Ernie was a great dad to his two children Lee and Christie. He loved them both so very much. He was always there for them whenever they needed something and provided strong, loving, truthful guidance to them and his grandchildren and he absolutely adored his great grandchildren. He leaves his grandchildren Anthony and wife Brittany Cox, Lita Cox, Brandon Arnett and fiancé Amanda Halverson, Brittani Arnett, Bradley and wife Christian Arnett, Samantha Cooper and Cara Cooper. The light of his life his great grandchildren, Brayden Cox, Carter Cox, Kyleigh Barnes, Brantley Arnett, Kelly Blake Arnett, Bradley Thomas, and Emery Halverson. Ernie is also survived by his beloved sister, Shirley Ann Cox of the home. Services were held at Strongtower Baptist Church in Gray, Tennessee. Ernie was cremated.

      It is said that some people can’t see the forest for the trees. Ernie was able to focus on each individual tree, tending to its needs, thus making the forest stronger as a whole. Ernie was a trustworthy, pragmatic and sympathetic person, the kind of man to whom everyone was drawn. He was thorough and practical. Ernie Cox was very literal with his words. You always knew where you stood with Ernie. He will be missed.