COX, Dr. James L.
Dr. James L. Cox passed after several weeks of declining health at Pine Pointe Hospice in Macon, Georgia, on Saturday, June 25, 2022. Born in Atlanta on March 12, 1931, to Irene McCook Cox and Lamar Patterson Cox, Jim grew up in the Brookhaven community, where he was raised by Minnie McBrayer, whom he called "Mama Mac." In his teenage years, Jim was known for his athleticism as a lifeguard at Silver Lake on the Oglethorpe University campus and as a local standout on the Chamblee High School football team, where he was coached by Tony Palma, who was a father figure to him. Jim's grandfather, Georgia Congressman E. Eugene Cox, got him an appointment to West Point. After being told he would run track instead of continue playing football, Jim transferred to Oglethorpe University and later to Emory University, where he earned B.A. and J.D. degrees. Jim practiced law in Atlanta until he was drafted into the Army during the Korean War, where he became an assistant to a chaplain who introduced him to books on theology. After his military discharge, Jim earned B.Div. and Th.M. degrees at Southeastern Baptist Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina.
Jim was a graduate teaching assistant at Southeastern Baptist Seminary when he met Sandra Hickman, a first-year B.Div. student, who was also from Atlanta. Once, after he scored one of her papers less favorably than she thought it deserved, she sought him out for additional feedback. They dated for two years and married in Atlanta on December 23, 1961. Jim, with assistance from fellowships, a Lilly scholarship and Sandra's job as an editor at the Methodist Publishing House in Nashville, Tennessee, completed his Ph.D. at Vanderbilt University. Jim's doctoral work focused on political science, philosophy and theology, which prepared him to teach in all of those areas at a college or university.
Jim accepted a teaching position at Mercer University in 1965 and became the first chair of the Political Science Department, teaching political philosophy, constitutional law and Christian ethics. He taught, inspired and encouraged Mercer students for 38 years. As pre-law advisor, he mentored pre-law students, helping more than 600 students get into law school, including helping six get into Harvard Law. Beloved by students for decades, the 1968 yearbook was dedicated in his honor and he was awarded the Student Government Association's Outstanding Faculty Award in 1992 and 2002. In November 2018, the classroom where Jim taught was dedicated in his honor.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents and his in-laws, George and Madeline Hickman. He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Sandra Hickman Cox of Macon; a brother-in-law, George L. Hickman, III of Decatur; a brother, Eugene Cox of Australia; a nephew, Chris Cox of Weatherford, Texas; adopted family members, Shawna Dooley and Chuck Gordon, both of Macon; cousins, beloved friends and many former students.
Visitation for Dr. James L. Cox will take place at Hart's Mortuary at the Cupola at 6324 Peake Road on Wednesday, June 29, 2022 from 5-7 PM, with burial to follow in Westview Cemetery in Atlanta. A memorial service will be held in Newton Chapel at Mercer University on Friday, July 8 at 3 PM. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the James Lamar Cox and Sandra Hickman Cox Scholarship at Mercer University. They may be mailed to the Office of University Advancement, 1501 Mercer University Drive, Macon, GA 31207.
Please visit www.hartsmort.com to express condolences.
Hart's at the Cupola, Hart's Mortuary and Cremation Center, 6324 Peake Rd., Macon, GA 31210 has charge of the arrangements.