Robert Cox, who coached football at Babylon, Glenn and Bay...

Robert Cox, who coached football at Babylon, Glenn and Bay Shore high schools from the 1950s to the 1980s, died on July 7 at age 97. Credit: Cox family

Robert Cox strived to bring out the best in others and that resulted in him leaving a positive impact on the people in his life.

Cox, of Brightwaters, who coached football at Babylon, Glenn and Bay Shore high schools, died of a cardiac event on July 7 at a rehabilitation center in West Islip, his family said. He was 97.

“He was able to bring out the greatness in others,” said son Tim Cox. “That’s really the mark of a true leader.”

Robert Cox coached Babylon’s football team to a 62-27-5 record, including two undefeated seasons and four league titles from 1958-69. He then coached Glenn from 1971-73 and served as the school’s athletic director until 1986.

He’s honored in the halls of fame at Glenn and at Babylon.

“His whole thing was the process, the relationship he had with the kids, taking care of the small stuff,” Tim Cox said “He always told me winning would take care of itself. Do the other stuff, don’t worry about that.”

Born in Montclair, New Jersey, on Dec. 11, 1925, Robert Cox attended Montclair High School before serving in the U.S. Army and earning a physical education degree from Springfield College. He earned Little All-American recognition as a tight end on Springfield’s football team and later earned a doctorate in physical education from the school.

Robert Cox settled down in Brightwaters, coached football, wrestling and basketball, and taught physical education at Babylon. His commitment to his students, players and schools inspired those around him and the coaches of future generations.

Robert Cox, right, coached Babylon’s football team to a 62-27-5...

Robert Cox, right, coached Babylon’s football team to a 62-27-5 record, two undefeated seasons and four league titles from 1958-69. Credit: Cox family

Dave Shanahan, the athletic director and head football coach at Glenn, inducted Cox as a member of Glenn’s first hall of fame class.

“He cared about the kids, and he was an extremely hard worker,” Shanahan said. “He cared about his family, and he wasn’t afraid to put the hours in to be a great coach.

“He was honored to get into the hall of fame. He was just a blessing to be around.”

Even when his coaching years appeared behind him, Robert Cox joined his son Tim on the sidelines when Tim landed the head football coaching job at Bay Shore High School in 1988. Robert Cox served as his son’s defensive coordinator and offensive line coach for two seasons.

“It was one of those full-circle moments,” Tim Cox said. “He taught me everything I knew and then I was the head coach and he was the assistant. Kind of a weird dynamic, but needless to say, I still deferred to him.”

Robert Cox’s commitment to his community didn’t stop after his career in education. Cox was a founding member of Bay Shore’s YMCA and volunteered as the mayor of Brightwaters for several years.

His older son, Bob Cox III, who later served as the mayor of the Village of Saltaire on Fire Island, said he was inspired by his dad’s devotion to helping others.

“My dad was a straight shooter,” Bob Cox said. “Don’t come to him and try to find a way for him to bend something to suit a particular need, that’s not really what his intent was. ... His mantra, as a coach, as a [physical education] teacher for the years that he was doing that, was to try and shape and mold people to be the best they could be.”

Bob and Tim Cox said their dad was so much more than a winning football coach, a mayor or a public staple in the community. Robert Cox loved to read and learn about history, they said. He sailed with the Great South Bay Cruising Club and served as a lifeguard and camp counselor during summers. He enjoyed traveling to places such as Alaska, Australia, Ireland and across Europe. He liked to whittle and made musical instruments such as dulcimers, which are small string instruments.

Besides his two sons, Robert Cox is survived by daughters Pam and Cheryl, 12 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. His wife of over 68 years, Gwyneth, predeceased him in 2019.

He was cremated, his family said.

With Andy Slawson

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