In Memoriam for Geraldine Cox

  • Geraldine “Gerry” Cox (WHF 1976-77)
    Gerry Cox of the WHF Class of 1976-77 passed away on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 at her home in Arlington, VA. Cynthia Kellams, a friend of Gerry and Walter Cox, prepared the following words in celebration of her life. Also included below are remembrances from several of Gerry’s WHF Classmates.

    Gerry Cox lost an extended battle to pancreatic cancer on March 21st and passed away peacefully, at home, with her husband Walter and a couple friends at her side. Dr. Gerry Cox was a highly regarded scientist who broke many glass ceilings for women in her profession before putting her career aside to aid an elderly uncle many years ago. The FEMA national Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) callout in 2004 changed all that and brought her out of retirement. When the call went out for volunteers to deploy to Florida, Gerry and another Arlington CERT member, Judie Armington, raised their hands and boarded a plane. They provided FEMA community outreach assistance in Florida for three weeks. After that, FEMA tapped Gerry numerous times — as an environmental scientist — to assist in the wake of disasters across the country. Her longest deployment was three months in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. Gerry was also a White House Fellow under presidents Carter and Ford, as well as the recipient of the highest civilian award granted by the U.S. Coast Guard. In addition to her emergency response work with various agencies, Gerry also raised cats, grew orchids, knit scarves, loved cooking, was an accomplished rock hound, a licensed ham radio operator and made and sold jewelry. She pretty much did it all. Gerry asked that there be no funeral or memorial service. If you’d like to send condolences to Walter, her husband of 52 years, his address is 2304 South Rolfe Street, Arlington, VA 22202. Gerry would be glad to be remembered as the feisty dame who got things done … and had fun doing it. God’s peace, Gerry.

    Remembrance from Jane Pisano (WHF Class of 1976-77): Gerry was an accomplished scientist and naturalist and she was a teacher. She was an outstanding and an always curious colleague. Through her questions she helped me see the world in new ways. She led my kids through ponds and beaches looking for Sharks’ teeth and other treasures while professionally she looked for ways to help others. She was in New Orleans with FEMA solving problems when conditions there were at their worst. Typical Gerry: making a difference. I am so grateful that she was my friend.

    Remembrance from Susan B. Magee (WHF Class of 1976-77): During our Fellowship year, in Gerry I met a strong woman with an insatiable curiosity and an extensive expertise in scientific and environmental matters. I learned from her, and in the years following, I admired her commitment to humanity in the work she did with FEMA on site of natural disasters in Florida and New Orleans. She cherished her women friends, and I consider myself lucky to have been one of them. She also faced death peacefully and fearlessly. Blessings, Gerry.

    Remembrance from Raoul Henri Alcala (WHF Class of 1976-77): Gerry, we love you! You epitomized the ideals of the Fellows, selflessly applying your abundant talents after our year in Washington to positions and causes that benefitted our society, being present with us to help us in our travails and to celebrate our successes, and ever to be our candid and loving friend. Be thou at peace!

    Remembrance from Mary Lynn Myers (WHF Class of 1976-77): She was ahead of her time in life and passed from it too soon. We were lucky to have known her.

    Remembrance from Judy Rosenstreich (WHF Class of 1976-77): I met Gerry at the Boston regionals in 1976. It was only for a day, but I was impressed! To my good fortune, we went on to spend a year together in the class of 1976-77. Gerry stayed in Washington and I found the time to visit her while keeping up with the White House Fellows program. Gerry ventured to Vermont on the occasion of my son Aaron’s Bar Mitzvah. Her gift of his first camera was fortuitous. She loved the fact that Aaron later earned degrees in photography and claimed credit for the part she played in his career as a fine art photographer! That was Gerry, a very kind and thoughtful person who became an expert in everything she pursued whether gourmet cooking, jewelry craftsmanship, Siamese cats, environmental science, or the courageous management of her own illness. I learned so much from Gerry’s insightful questions, bringing a unique perspective to our discussions. She was a brilliant and generous person, always thinking of others’ needs before her own. We loved Gerry.

    Remembrance from Carlos Del Toro (WHF Class of 1998-99): Dear Friends, Please allow me to express my heartfelt sorrow. Gerry was indeed a special lady in many ways. While I certainly did not know her as close as most of you, I did share phone-calls with her these past couple of years as she courageously fought for her life. She was so very caring and would always inquire on my son who is at Johns Hopkins as an undergrad. I will miss our friend. With love to all, Carlos.

    Remembrance from Lynn Schenk (WHF Class of 1976-77): Friends, this is how I prefer to remember Gerry (and each of you!)

    posted: April 23, 2018
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