By Marilyn Miller
With most of our elders, the story went something like this, “I walked a mile through the snow every day to get to school…”
C. C. “Cat” Cox has a slightly different version. “I was 15 and I walked two miles every day to get to my job at the service station. I made $1 a day!” True story.
One year later, Cox and his cousin, O.D. Cox, missed a curfew….by a long shot. The punishment meted out by his father — turn in your uniform, and never play football again. Or catch a train out of town. But Cotton Valley business owner Sid Maxwell had an alternative proposal for Cox’s father.
“When Sid Maxwell asked my father if I could run his pool hall (in Cotton Valley) for $15 a week, he took him up on it. I was 16-years-old, and I ran it for three years. The place had five domino tables and two pool tables.”
But Cox had always wanted to own a gas station. So he worked out a deal with Mr. Maxwell, and by the time he turned 19, he had enough money to purchase the Cities Service Station, which he owned for a decade. Not afraid of work, Cox next made a deal with his uncle, who was running for Chief of Police of Cotton Valley. He’d help him win the election, if his uncle would get him a job driving a school bus. That deal happened and he drove a school bus for the next 47 years.
THE REAL DEALS
The next “deal” really got Officer C.C. Cox on the road to public service that he continues on today at the age of 94. He and his police chief uncle were involved in a car wreck in Jonesboro in 1958. Both men were injured, but his uncle more seriously.
“Next thing I know, the mayor and council were there dangling a badge and gun in my face, saying that they needed a police chief,” Cox recalled. “I asked why they were talking to me, and they said I was going to be the new chief.”
“I just walked into City Hall and they told me to raise my right hand. And I did. I put that gun on and I wore it for the next 26 years,” he said.
His next venture into public service was as a member of the Webster Parish Police Jury. He served six four-year terms. He served on the Cotton Valley Board of Aldermen for 12 years, two of those being Mayor Pro-Tem.
He is proud of the legislation that he got passed during his terms on the police Jury, including 19 miles of black-topping in Cotton Valley. “Roy Hale and I worked to get a landfill for Sarepta, which really helps out the area.”
However, throughout his entire career, he was a sworn member of law enforcement for Webster Parish. Cox worked under six different sheriffs.
“Sheriff J. D. Batton got me my first radio for my (squad) car,” Cox recalled. “I worked for him for $40 a month. And I worked for Sheriff O. H. Haynes, Jr. for $50 a month.”
Cox is proud of the present sheriff, Jason Parker. “I love him to death…he’s a fine fellow.”
Throughout his law enforcement career, Cox has had some very good men covering his back, including Sarepta Chief Charles Grappe, Cullen Chief Jack Litton, and Springhill Chief Jerry Stephens.
“We didn’t have any deputies back then, so we had to rely on each other,” Cox explained. “We worked well together.”
Cox has many stories to tell, some more colorful than others, from being almost kidnapped by a suspect to many a late-night auto chase. One of his stories includes meeting up with then Governor Edwin Edwards in an American Legion Hall in south Louisiana. Cox informed Gov. Edwards that the Louisiana Chiefs of Police did not have retirement.
“In three months, we had it,” he beamed.
During all his “wheeling and dealing” days, Cox managed to find the time to marry the love of his life, Gladys Loriece Cox, who he lost in 2022, after 73 years together. Cox met his wife on a blind date in 1949. They married on April 9, 1949, and went on to have two children, Naomi Cox Coyle and Ouida Cox Garner. They have two grandsons, Doug and Ryan Coyle. Gladys worked for the Louisiana Army Ammunition Plant for 26 years, and as supervisor of voting machines for the Webster Parish Clerk of Court for 20 years.
Not many people can say that they have their own day. But in Cotton Valley, each January 9 is “C.C. Cox Day,” according to LA Senate Resolution No. 243. And part of Hwy. 371 that goes through Cotton Valley is named in his honor. Just look for the signs!
Cox has been a member of First Baptist Church for nearly 70 years. He has been affiliated with Cotton Valley Masonic Lodge #338 for more than 70 years. And he is still serving on the board of directors of Webster Parish Office of Community Services.
Cox is known as much for his white hat as he is his years of service to Webster Parish. Today, he makes his home at Savannah Court on Germantown Road in Minden. He’s had many titles – officer, alderman, mayor, deputy and chief. But he has a new one today at Savannah Court.
“That’s Sheriff Cox to you,” he teased, a smile on his face.