George Cox has been a Gulf County education institution for 50 years.
As of November, his role will become strictly voluntary.
Cox announced at Tuesday’s regular monthly meeting of the Gulf County School Board that he would be retiring from his District 2 seat effective with the 2014 elections in November.
Cox, first voted to the seat in a special election when Sharon Gaskin mounted a campaign for Superintendent of Schools, was returned to office for two full terms, never facing opposition.
“I would like to thank the voters of District 2,” Cox said. “I have spent all of my adult life working with the Gulf County School System. It has been most rewarding and I will continue to support it in any way I can.”
Which effectively means Cox is not retiring from the system, just retiring from receiving a paycheck for this work.
Cox has counted money for school events, contributed to efforts of various clubs and organizations – not to mention individual students – and has volunteered to count the proceeds from the vending machines at Wewahitchka High School for years.
And in addition to his time on the School Board, Cox has also served the past eight years as a director for the Florida School Board Association, serving on a host of committees.
“He brings such institutional knowledge to this board,” said Superintendent Jim Norton. “He has gone from the classroom to the board room.”
Cox spent 40 years as an instructor and club sponsor at Wewahitchka High School. Primarily an instructor of various business-related courses –from economics to civics to typing to business education – Cox has long been a fixture in the schools at the north end.
Those decades in the classroom provided the instructional personnel in Gulf County Schools with one of their strongest advocates on the School Board, a man consistently questioning and praising teachers and staff to ensure students were getting the education he provided.
“He is a blessing to this board,” said board member Billy Quinn, Jr. “He brings a tremendous amount of experience.”
For Cox, who will turn 77 this year, the time in the schools, on the School Board was becoming, as he put it, a “bit of chore.”
He said he had two back surgeries – marking three such surgeries since 2003 – and in the past two years. He has also had heart issues requiring bypass surgery and implantation of a pacemaker.
He once drove off State 22 after losing consciousness while driving several years ago – escaping with no injuries – and had a similar recent scare which sent him to the hospital for several days and carried a diagnosis of very high blood pressure.
He said, simply, it was time to step aside.
“I am tired,” Cox said. “My term ends Nov. 17 and if I can make it that long I don’t want to do it anymore. It is time for someone younger to come in.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time on the board. It has been very rewarding.”