John E. Fox

NO. 17495  •  6 Jun 1928 – 17 Jun 2002

Died in Trenton, NJ
Interred in West Point Cemetery, West Point, NY


John Edmond Fox was born at Ft. Sam Houston, TX, the son of 1 LT John Henry and Evelyn Wood Fox. The family traveled to many places throughout John Henry's career, but Panama, with its green jungles and blue waters, was John Edmond's favorite and the birth- place of younger brother, David. 

When LT Fox retired in 1937, the family settled on a farm north of San Antonio. The boys often had to devise their own entertainment. For John, that meant catching rattlesnakes for the zoo and reading the entire Book of Knowledge. Not only did he enjoy the reading, but he also gained a liberal education that served him all his life. With his friend, John Igo, he co-authored a play produced for the Texas PTA Convention in 1941. 

John graduated from Jefferson High School and attended Texas-A&M University for one year. At 17 years of age, he enlisted in the Navy before the end of WW II. He was serving on the cruiser USSChicago anchored at Shanghai, when he received word of his appointment to West Point. John reported to the Academy in Navy uniform. 

His classmates often heard him singing, "I joined the Navy to see the world, and what did I see? I saw the sea. Oh, the Atlantic isn't romantic and the Pacific isn't terrific, and the Navy ain't no place for me!" 

John had a wonderful sense of humor and liked to tell jokes, but never at the expense of others. One time, during a large combined class session, the instructor asked a question and then called on "Mr. Fox" to answer. John stood, and asked, "Do you want E. J. Fox. " (The other Fox in the class.) The instructor said, "Yes." So E.J. Fox had to respond. A few days later, the same thing happened, but this time E. J. Fox stood up and asked, "Do you want J. E. Fox?" "You will do," the instructor replied. 

Academics were no challenge to John. One classmate recalled that John took frequent catnaps during the evening study time. He jokingly accused him of "sleeping his way through West Point." John just grinned. He was well liked by his classmates. He was active in intramural sports, ran on the cross-country team, was a member of the Glee Club, the Chapel Choir, and served on the Howitzer and Pointer staffs. On a trip with the Glee Club to New York City during his First Class year, roommate Bob Groseclose introduced him to a friend. John was quickly swept up in a whirlwind romance with Jane O'Connor, the pretty daughter of an Air Force officer. They married shortly after graduation. 

John had orders for Japan but in August 1950, with some other 11 classmates, he flew to Tokyo, Japan, via Seattle and Adak, AK, then by ship to Pusan. He was assigned as a platoon leader in Company F, 38th "Rock of the Marne" Infantry Regiment, 2d Infantry Division. 

In Korea, John was wounded twice, and earned two Silver Stars and a Bronze Star for valor. He rotated home in May 1951. Arriving in Sasebo, Japan, he met Uzal Ent, one of his roommates at the Academy. Ent, too, was rotating home. Somewhere, John located a guitar. He and Ent, by way of reunion, visited a nearby "watering hole" and entertained themselves (and maybe the other patrons) by singing to John's accompaniment on his guitar. 

John's most significant assignment was at West Point (1957-61) teaching map reading, astronomy, and geography in the Department of Earth, Space and Graphic Sciences (ES&GS). He wrote articles about stars and telescopes that were published in Popular Science and Popular Mechanics. By that time, the family had Barbara (1952), Susan (1953), John "Jeff" (1955), Stephen (1957), and Cathy (1958). John, with humor and affection, referred to their children as "varmints. " 

John then went to Panama and the 20th Infantry (1961-62) and Headquarters, Army in the Caribbean (1962-64), After a year at Columbia University (1964-65), he returned to ES&GS, earning his master's in 1966 and a Ph.D. in 1969. He completed the correspondence version of CGSC in four months in 1969. 

In Viet Nam, John served as G-2 for XXIV Corps (1969-70), earning a Bronze Star and two Air Medals. While at Ft. Dix, NJ, in '71, he decided to retire because his hearing loss, due to a hand grenade in Korea, was worsening. He then was awarded the Legion of Merit. John became a professor of geography and department chairman at Trenton State College in New Jersey, retiring after 25 years as professor emeritus. 

John was a mentor to students and fellow teachers. He made them laugh, he made them think, encouraged them, challenged them, and made them better for having known him. In 1988, he was Teacher of the Year. He was a member of the Princeton Officers Society, Ewing Township Patriotic Committee, and Ewing Historical Commission. 

After son Stephen died in 1996, John retired from teaching to his study filled with computers, files, references, photos, and cookies, to work on a book that he left unfinished. That project will be completed as his legacy. 

All twelve grandchildren loved grandpa's office, where they always received a warm reception from him and were allowed to play computer games. In July 2000, Jane and John celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. 

In May 2002, while cruising Russia's rivers and lakes, John suffered a head injury. It took two weeks to get him to Walter Reed Army via Finland and Germany, but there was no hope of recovery. Ewing Township honored John with their first memorial service in Veterans Park. 

John Edmond Fox was a well-rounded person - brilliant, creative, and fun loving-who effortlessly pursued his careers with light-hearted determination. He loved his family, his work, his hobbies, and his friends, and he was greatly loved in return. 

John's mortal body has left us, but his indomitable spirit will be with us always.

- The family with classmates Howard B. Blanchard;Jr:, Joseph P. Buccolo, and Uzal W. Ent