Fred Fox collected biographies and baseballs.
He had about 100 biographies. He liked to read about presidents, industrialists and baseball players. He also fancied biographies related to World War II, which his late father, Aron Fox, served in with the U.S. Army.
"He enjoyed the facts, learning about how they became who they were, what their strategies were," said friend Marianne Stubbs of Marietta. "He especially liked the biographies of John Adams, Alexander Hamilton and Mark Twain. Another was Andrew Jackson."
His collection of baseballs topped 30. All were signed by the players.
An only child, Mr. Fox was born and raised in Cookeville, Tenn. He played football and baseball for the local high school. Though a lover of the written word, Mr. Fox was a chemistry major in college. He graduated with a bachelor's degree from Lipscomb University, a liberal arts college in Nashville.
After college, he taught high school chemistry in Clayton County for five years before he tired of the profession. So he tried insurance and found a niche. He became an inspector/salesman for Hartford Steam Boiler. It marked the start of a career in insurance that spanned decades.
For the past six years, Mr. Fox worked at Southern States Insurance in Marietta. John Schubert, the company president, said Mr. Fox knew the trade.
"He was high energy," said Mr. Schubert of Johns Creek. "He was as devoted to his customers as anyone and treated them all as very good friends. He was a very knowledgeable insurance man."
In August, Mr. Fox was hospitalized for anemia. After many tests and many specialists, an oncologist diagnosed kidney cancer. Mr. Fox died Dec. 17 from complications of the disease at Wellstar Kennestone Hospital in Marietta. He was 63. A party to celebrate his life will be held at a later date.
Mr. Fox enjoyed sports, particularly University of Tennessee football and the Atlanta Braves. From 1988 to 1998, he served as an official with the Atlanta Area Basketball Officials Association. He also officiated sporting events at the Atlanta Jewish Community Center.
In 1978, Mr. Fox left Hartford Steam Boiler to become an independent insurance agent. At the time of his death, he was employed at Southern States, where he'd worked alongside Ms. Stubbs.
"He was very good at insurance," she said. "He could read people and he knew how to read people's personalities. He knew what they needed and people trusted him. Clients became his friends, so it was a wonderful relationship that lasted."
Mr. Fox didn't wanted a funeral. He wanted his friends to throw a party.
And early next year, that's what his friends plan to do.
"He told me many times that he wanted people to get together to have a good time," Ms. Stubbs said. "Those were his wishes."