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Jesse Cox, 1878-1961


Posted By: Emmet County IAGenWeb Coordinator (email)
Date: 1/28/2009 at 12:03:36

Longtime Resident, Ex-Councilman Dies

Jesse Cox, 83, longtime Estherville businessman and member of the city council for 10 years, died yesterday [25 May 1961] at 5:10 p.m. in the Holy Family Hospital. Mr. Cox had been in failing health for some time and was taken to the hospital May 15. Death was attributed to complications of advanced age.

Mr. Cox became interested in the theatre as a youth and at the age of 16 he first "went on the road" with the Noble Dramatic Shows of Chariton. While traveling with them he became interested in the special scenery used. Interest in that scenery led to his being the originator of commercial dye-painted scenery for theatrical productions. The process, which involved mixing dye with warm water, made it possible for scenery to be much lighter in weight and transported more conveniently.

Born March 3, 1878 in Seneca, Ill., the son of Mr. and Mrs. Spencer Cox, he received his schooling there and with his parents moved to Estherville in 1891. As a young man he was associated with his father in a contracting business here. Next he joined the road company and became interested in scenery painting. Upon returning to Estherville in 1918, Mr. Cox painted great quantities of scenery, shipping much of it to California and Texas.

However, he still was interested in show business and he departed temporarily from Estherville to work for Chicago and Minneapolis-Saint Paul theaters for several seasons.

After the road shows lost their popularity, Mr. Cox started a studio for scenery painting in the old Lough opera house where the Elks building now stands [on Second Avenue North between Sixth and Seventh Streets.] He first made scenery for theaters and schools and later went into the sign-painting and neon-sign business. The Cox studio at 606 N. 12th St., operated by Mr. Cox and his son, Robert, is the third studio which he operated in Estherville. The first was destroyed by fire, the second was razed by a tornado and the present studio rose from its ruins.

Other first for Mr. Cox included the operating of the Opera House here for many years with his brother; initiating the "Opera House Reporter" publications, an entertainment industry trade paper; and running the first movie projector in the state of Iowa.

Mr. Cox was married to the late Mabel Berberick and in 1939 he married the former Carrie Beaty of Marengo.

He was a longtime member of First Methodist Church, Knights of Pythias where he held the chair for two years; the Elks lodge where he served as Exalted Ruler for one year, and the Estherville City Council.

Mr. Cox is survived by his widow; three sons, Maurice of Colorado Springs, Colo.; Robert of Estherville and Earl of Hickam Field, Hawaii; six grandchildren and two great grandchildren; and one brother, Lee, Los Angeles, Calif.

He was preceded in death by his first wife, one son, Eugene, two grandchildren, his parents and three brothers.

Funeral services for Mr. Cox are to be Monday at 2 p.m. at First Methodist Church, the Rev. Fred W. Ortmeyer and the Rev. William R. Noland officiating. Burial will be in Oak Hill cemetery.

Friends may call at Sandin-Fuhrman Funeral Home from Saturday evening until noon Monday, at which time the body is to be taken to the church to lie in state until time of the services.

Contributed by: Ruth M. Hackett. Source: Iowa Daily News, Estherville, Emmet County, Iowa, May 26, 1961.


Emmet Obituaries maintained by Lynn Diemer-Mathews.
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