Dave Cox would be embarrassed by this editorial.
He would say we are overreacting, that what we are going to say is too flowery and undeserved.
In his modesty, we can see him popping into that full-face smile of his, cocking his head a bit, holding his upturned palms at chest level and shrugging in that gee-whiz style we came to know.
Dave, a former editor of both the Terre Haute Star and later the Tribune-Star, was that kind of guy. He died Thursday at 61.
In the Tribune-Star newsroom, Dave was known for his intelligence, talent, work ethic and dedication to his readers. He was exemplary in all of those ways. He, as much as anyone, was responsible for bringing together two competing, post-strike news staffs (The Tribune, The Star) in the early 1980s as the papers changed ownership and, nearly immediately, merged into one newspaper.
It was Dave who designed and edited that first front page — Volume 1, No. 1 — of new The Tribune-Star on May 16, 1983.
It was Dave who sat on the news desk five nights a week, laying out the local pages, battling the deadlines, making news judgments at night and managing a staff. The rest of us always felt that the paper was in very good hands when Dave was in charge.
Dave was, yes, journalistically responsible, but more than that, he showed a community responsibility. He — unlike some of the rest of us — was Terre Haute-born and -bred, a proud son of Schulte High School. He knew the community’s history, sensibilities, strengths, weaknesses and personality better than most of us. The newsroom often listened well to what Dave had to advise about how to cover his community.
Among many other initiatives, it was Dave who created, designed, edited and kept alive a lively year-in-review section that ran for many years in the Tribune-Star — his annual contribution to recording the community’s history.
And it was Dave whose idea it was to start that popular old feature, “Today’s Smile,” which the paper displayed at the bottom left corner of page 1.
It is Dave whose fingerprints still can be found in this newspaper — how it tells stories, how it looks, how it tries to dedicate itself to the communities it serves.
When he left the Tribune-Star 14 years ago, the Sisters of Providence at St. Mary-of-the-Woods were lucky to obtain his services as media director. The Woods — both the Sisters and the college — were very special to Dave, whose grandfather and great-grandfather also had worked there. We know — as related movingly in a story in Saturday’s Tribune-Star — that Dave served that community as well and as faithfully as he served the communities of readers and colleagues.
With all his talent, Dave always brought a gentle spirit — quick to compliment, eager to say thanks or to forgive, hesitant to criticize, rare to anger.
In fact among the many positive things that can be said about Dave, the most positive are not comments reflecting on his work, but those reflecting on his life. Simply put, we have never known a more thoroughly decent man than Dave Cox.
To Dave’s devoted wife, Brenda, and to his two children and grandchildren — of whom he was immensely proud — we offer our condolences and our thanks for sharing him with us.
Thanks, Dave. Rest in peace, our friend.