Donald J. Cox, a former councilman in Ewing who devoted his life to numerous nonprofit and community organizations in Mercer County and beyond, died peacefully on Oct. 22 with his family by his side. He was 90.
Don grew up in Ewing and attended Ewing public schools, graduating from Trenton Central High School in 1951. He went on to earn his bachelor’s degree from Temple University in 1955, receiving recognition as the outstanding senior of his class. At Temple University, Don served as the international vice president of Circle K, president of the Temple Pre-Law Association, the GOP Club, and the Sigma PI Fraternity International, and student manager of the Diamond Marching Band. He was also selected to play in the Pennsylvania All-University Orchestra.
After college, Don served as a lieutenant in the United States Army. His unit, the Trans Arctic Group, was stationed in Greenland. He made a trip to the North Pole on Memorial Day, 1956, and also the 10,000-foot top of the Greenland Icecap on July 4. Next, he served at Miller Air Field in Staten Island, New York, in the 1st Army Aviation; and later in the New Jersey National Guard as General Walter Lamon’s Aide in Division Artillery.
Don began his career at General Motors as an assisting purchasing agent for engineering but left GM to open Revere Travel in 1961. With the travel business growing rapidly, he sold Revere in 1967 and founded Tailored Tours, specializing in charter excursions. Don was listed as Who’s Who in America and Outstanding Young Men in America. In 1974, he was asked to teach high school school world cultures and history. He taught in the Trenton School District for 25 years, then earned his master’s degree from Temple University in 1987 and moved into school administration. After retiring, Don was licensed in securities and insurance.
Throughout his life, Don was active in many organizations, including the Ewing Kiwanis Club as a life member of Kiwanis International. After organizing the Key Club at Ewing High School, he was appointed to be the New Hersey State Administrator for Key Clubs in the high schools and Circle K Clubs in the colleges. During his 10 years as an administrator, he added 46 new high school Key Clubs and 17 Circle K Clubs in colleges throughout the state. He served in all positions up to Lieutenant Governor in Kiwanis. Don organized the New Jersey District Foundation in 1970 and founded the New Jersey Youth Leadership Institute, which trained young local leaders for 40 years. He was appointed by the president of Kiwanis International to serve on the International Committees on Key Clubs and Circle K. He received the Circle of Service award in Toronto from Circle K International. The award in New Jersey is now known as the “Donald J. Cox Circle of Service Award.” Don served as President of the Ewing Kiwanis Education Foundation and was a life member of the Ewing Kiwanis Club.
As one of four founders of the Ewing Adult School, Don served as president for two terms. In 1992, he was elected to serve on the Ewing Charter Study Commission to change the form of government. Don was later elected to serve on the Ewing Township Council. He was also a candidate for the New Jersey State Senate twice. Don served as chairman of the 500-member Mercer County Retired Senior Volunteer Program for 25 years. During his tenure as chairman of the Ewing Recreation Commission for 17 years, many Ewing parks were purchased and planned. He has also been active in the Ewing Knights of Columbus.
Active and dedicated to the Sigma Pi Fraternity since college, Don served as the international president of the Sigma Pi Fraternity, president of the Sigma Pi Education Foundation, and president of the Kappa of Sigma Pi Alumni Association.
Don was also a member of the Fraternal Order of Police, 200 Club, Senior Citizen Club C, chairman of the Ewing Township Senior Advisory Commission, Temple University Owl Club, Temple Legends Society, and American Legion, was a Life Member of VFW, and served on the board of directors of Ewing Bank & Trust Co. He also served as a lector and eucharistic minister at Incarnation Church in Ewing since 1989.
During Don’s lifetime, his travels took him to six continents and 92 countries. His motto followed the 20th century comedian, Eddy Cantor, who said, “Service to others is the rent we pay for our life on Earth.”
Don was predeceased by his parents, James J. and Estelle Comiski Cox, and his wife, Violet A. Symonowicz Cox. He is survived by his son Donald J. Jr and his wife Sara; his daughter Beth Bauer and her husband Albert; and three grandsons – James Cox, Alex Bauer and Matthew Cox.
Viewing services will be held Friday, Oct. 27 from 5 to 7 p.m., and Saturday, Oct. 28 from 8 to 9 a.m. at the Wilson-Apple Funeral Home, which is located at 2560 Pennington Road in Pennington. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Incarnation-St. James Roman Catholic Church, which is located at 1545 Pennington Road in Ewing. Entombment will follow at Ewing Church Cemetery. Condolences are welcome and charity donation recommendations in lieu of flowers can be found at www.wilsonapple.com.