Frank D. Cox

[ Age 62 ] A `perfectionist,' the Baltimore County chemistry and physics teacher had a 33-year career in public education

October 21, 2006|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,sun reporter

Frank Douglas Cox, a retired Baltimore County public schools chemistry and physics teacher who also coached sports, died of lung cancer Tuesday at St. Joseph Medical Center. The Parkville resident was 62.

Born in Statesville, N.C., and raised in the Middlesex section of Baltimore County, he was a 1962 Kenwood High School graduate. He received an associate's degree from Essex Community College, where he met his future wife, Carol Gladkowski. He went on to receive a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Towson State University and earned a master's degree in science education at Morgan State University.

"The main reason he went into chemistry and education was the encouragement his professors gave him at Towson," his wife said. "He was a perfectionist, a strict teacher. He expected his students to toe the line."

Mr. Cox had a 33-year teaching career in Baltimore County public schools. For nearly two decades he taught at Parkville High School and had been science department chairman. He was also on the Kenwood faculty and initially retired from Franklin High School.

"With my father, the most important things were family and work," his son, Christopher Cox, said. "He would completely redo his curriculum almost every year, switch textbooks when he felt he found a better one, even though that meant a lot of work for him."

Christopher Cox said his father encouraged him to enter scientific work and get his doctorate in chemistry at the Johns Hopkins University. Christopher Cox is now engaged in cancer research at a Merck laboratory in West Point, Pa.

Mr. Cox also taught night school at Parkville for many years and chemistry one summer at Towson State. Family members said he was not happy unless he was working, and after he retired from the classroom, he did work at Trace Labs in Hunt Valley. When the county found it needed additional science teachers, he quit that job and returned to teaching - at Patapsco High School in Dundalk.

In the summer of 1992, he spent three days driving to the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico to participate in an enrichment program for teachers.

Mr. Cox spent the last two years of his life as a science editor at Words & Numbers, an educational publishing company on Television Hill where he reviewed, wrote and edited middle and high school science texts.

"He had a smile on his face and was a high-energy, upbeat person," said Phyllis Hillwig, chief operating officer at the publishing firm. "People looked to him for his experience in science education and they also looked to him as a person."

She said that Mr. Cox, in creating science texts, "helped many, many kids he was not able to reach on his own."

While at Parkville High School, Mr. Frank coached the golf and cross country teams and assisted with wrestling and baseball coaching duties.

Mr. Cox, who never smoked, was diagnosed with lung cancer in January 2005. He continued to exercise and work out while being treated for the disease. In addition to coaching sports, Mr. Cox ran marathons. He worked out at gyms most days of the week.

A memorial service will be held at 5 p.m. tomorrow at Evans Funeral Chapel, 8801 Harford Road in Parkville.

In addition to his wife of 39 years and son, survivors include a brother, Allen Cox of Columbia; and four nephews.

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