Thomas Robert Cox II
August 24, 1938 – September 26, 2019
Thomas Robert Cox II of Peoria, IL, died Thursday, September 26, 2019 after a full, benevolent & rewarding life. He was 81 years old. Tom, an only child, was born on August 24, 1938 in Decatur, IL to Gerald and Florence (Wood) Cox. They preceded him in death.
He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Bonnie (Ennis) Cox. They met in high school in Decatur and began their courtship while both attending college in Chicago. He is also survived by his sons and their wives, Thomas Robert III “T.R.” and Apipa Cox, Arthur Gerald and Michele Mazzei Cox, grandchildren Thomas Robert IV, Florence and Regan Cox, a niece, a nephew, and several cousins.
Tom received his baccalaureate from Northwestern University, and MBA from Bradley University. He enjoyed a successful and fulfilling career with Caterpillar, taking him to England for several years, eventually landing back in Peoria. He remained with Caterpillar until his retirement.
Even while still working, he for years volunteered his time and immense talent to multiple organizations and groups including Lakeview Museum and Habitat for Humanity. In retirement, he was committed to the care of his beloved Illinois Valley Yacht & Canoe (IVY) Club along with countless other volunteer projects. In order to more efficiently perform these tasks, he dedicated himself to learning the trades, becoming a skilled plumber, carpenter and electrician which only added to his existing computer and management expertise. Tom felt an inherent duty to make these contributions, seeking neither gratitude nor recognition for his generosity. It was such a conviction to him in fact, that most came to realize any attempt at repayment was seen almost as a slap in the face.
Tom was a fixture at the IVY Club. He sailed his boat “User-friendly” for several years eventually transitioning to his exclusive electric launch “Electra” (a reproduction of the electric boat from the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair). He made a point of installing a ship’s horn on little Electra – making his arguably the loudest horn on the river – shocking a few other boaters and the occasional barge. He served on the IVY Club’s board, and eventually as its Commodore in 1994. He was also Vice President of the IVY Boating Foundation and instrumental in its operation. He served as Race Committee Chairman and in various other race committee capacities. He was also an integral part of the club’s “IVY Log” (yearbook) editorial board for many years. He was instrumental in restoring the IVY Club following numerous occasions of flood damage, as well as ongoing maintenance and upkeep of the facilities. Likely no one has dedicated more time and energy to the club. The IVY Club’s Volunteer-of-The-Year award is named in his honor.
He was a gourmand, active for many years in a local (private) Peoria gourmet group, and an avid collector of specialty cookbooks. He built and maintained numerous web sites, for his gourmet group, his book club, the Mystery Club to which he belonged, Electra’s log, the IVY Club, and numerous others for various groups and causes.
With his palpable intelligence and a dry and very sophisticated sense of humor, Tom was also fiercely loyal to, and protective of, the people that meant the most to him. He was the grammarian your mother warned you about, with a finesse for the English language and an unrivaled wit to exercise it, with a subtle and sometimes cutting (but always good humored) delivery. He did not suffer fools lightly, but had enough energy, drive, and generosity to positively affect the lives of more people than we will ever likely realize.
If friends were asked to describe him, they would tell you he was the wittiest and foremost joke-teller they’ve ever known. In turn, in combination with his innate wit, he became one of the most sought MC’s among his huge group of friends.
A celebration of life will be held on Saturday October 19, 2019, at the Illinois Valley Yacht and Canoe (IVY) Club, 5102 North Galena Road, Peoria Heights, IL 61616. Services begin at 1:00 pm with visitation an hour prior, after which a ceremonial flotilla will launch, followed by a gathering in the clubhouse. Memorial contributions in Tom’s honor may be made to the IVY Club Boating Foundation.
Online condolences may be left for the family at www.woolsey-wilton.com
- Gerald Cox, Father
- Florence (Wood) Cox, Mother
- Bonnie E. (Ennis) Cox, Wife
- Thomas Robert "TR" and Apipa Cox III, Son
- Arthur Gerald and Michele Mazzei Cox, Son
- Thomas Robert IV, Florence and Regan Cox, Grandchildren
- Kathy and Dennis Hirota, Sister-in-law
- One Niece, one Nephew and Several Cousins
- Thomas Robert II was preceded in death by his parents, Gerald and Florence Cox.
- Ivy Club Boating Foundation
- Celebration of Life Service Saturday, October 19, 2019
- Visitation Saturday, October 19, 2019
Thomas Robert Cox II
October 12, 2019
Bonnie & Family,
We are very sad to read of Tom’s passing. We first met you and Tom when Diana joined the IVY Club in July 1993. We have many memories of conversations and pig roasts over the years. The one memory that stands out is our boat ride in the “Electra”. Tom was even brave enough to let us steer the boat.
We hope your many, many happy memories will help you get through this most difficult time. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
With Deepest Sympathy,
Diana & Ed Johnson
October 11, 2019
I had the pleasure to work for and with Tom before he retired. I found him supportive of others ideas and wise about the ways of Caterpillar. I appreciated his humor, especially in times of pressure, but I could never read his writing.
October 9, 2019
I remember being terrified of Mr. Cox when I was in high school. He wasn't a big talker, but when he did speak people listened. I too appreciated his dry wit.
Bonnie, Tom and Art I am sorry for your loss, he was a great man.