When Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department Lt. Jay Jones visited Capt. Thomas Cox at the hospital where he was being treated for cancer, Cox told him a story from Jones’ first day on the job 22 years ago.
“That man remembered everything and everyone,” Jones said. “He knew when you joined the department, your birthday, your kids’ birthdays, everything. He never missed a thing.”
The Augusta native died Monday. After a 42-year career with the fire department, his co-workers are left wondering how they will replace someone who touched each of them so personally.
“There are over 300 people on the department now,” Jones said. “He knows them all. He could meet you one time and be able to recognize your voice after that. It was amazing.”
As the firefighters from shift C in Fire Station 8 sat in a semicircle in the station between calls, they remembered a man who always knew when someone was hurting.
“My dad got sick a while back,” Sgt. Michael Barnes said. “He called me up and asked about him. I hadn’t seen Cox in three years.”
He did the same thing for firefighter Mac Young when his daughter was in a car accident.
“I don’t know how he knew these things,” Young said. “But he had a way of calling you up when you needed him to.”
The firefighters remembered Cox as a man who loved the uniform. Even after he got sick, when he could not drive anymore and was not supposed to be working, he would have his wife bring him into the office for a few hours each day.
“He loved it. It was his life,” Jones said.
Cox was a detailed man. He was in charge of checking reports, and if there was something missing or wrong, he would let you know, Barnes said. He kept meticulous records and knew every road and intersection in Augusta. The firefighters believe he had a photographic memory.
Battalion Chief Ivan Bolgla, who is on shift B at Station 8, had worked with him since 1988.
“I never heard anything negative about him,” he said. “He was beloved in the department.”
Cox was a member of the Fleming Lions Club and Augusta First Church of the Nazarene, where he served as the church board secretary and the Sunday school superintendent, according to his obituary.
Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. Thursday in the chapel of Chance & Hydrick Funeral Directors at 2502 Richmond Hill Road. Burial with honors by the fire department will be in Westover Memorial after the service.
Cox had been the chaplain for the past 5½ years. Firefighter Jacques Johnson took over after Cox’s retirement and knows he has big shoes to fill.
“He would pray for everyone,” Johnson said. “He would call and check on you. He would visit the sick, make sure they were OK. He was full of life. Every single one of us is going to miss him.”