Cox has been a member of Haddon Fire Company №1 for more than 50 years, has been a long-time member of the Haddonfield Celebration Association and currently works as a borough crossing guard.
Lifetime Haddonfield resident George Cox thought he was attending the annual Mayor’s Breakfast on Jan. 14 to represent the Haddonfield Celebrations Association, an organization he’s volunteered with for more than 25 years.
What he didn’t realize was he was going to be the center of attention as the recipient of a prestigious award.
Cox was chosen as the 45th recipient of the Haddonfield Citizen of the Year Award. A member of the Haddon Fire Company №1 for more than 50 years and long-time volunteer with Haddonfield Celebrations Association, Cox said he was floored when he found out he was Citizen of the Year.
“I know different organizations put in different names of people they think should get it,” Cox said. “To be picked, it’s really an honor. It’s something you don’t really expect.”
Cox said receiving the award was a complete surprise. Unbeknownst to him, his children and grandchildren were invited to the breakfast to celebrate the recognition with him. His family stayed upstairs First Presbyterian Church until it was time for the awards ceremony. Cox didn’t realize what was going on until Mayor Jeff Kasko began to introduce him.
“I had no clue,” Cox insisted. “I still can’t believe it. I feel really honored.”
Tom Quigley, chair of the Haddonfield Lions Club Citizen of the Year committee, said Cox’s remarkable service over more than 50 years made him a perfect fit for the award. Quigley added multiple people had independently nominated Cox for the award this year.
“George is one of these guys that just has this sense of civic duty,” Quigley said.
Cox has been a lifetime resident of Haddonfield. He grew up in town and was part of the first class to use the kindergarten room at Central School.
After graduating from Haddonfield Memorial High School in 1960, Cox attended Pearce Business School in Philadelphia. He later joined the United States Navy, serving for four years.
Cox has spent most of his adult life working with Haddon Fire Company №1. Cox first joined the fire company in 1961 and worked his way up the ranks. After previously serving as dutyman, lieutenant and captain, Cox was promoted to fire chief in 1989. He served in that capacity until his retirement in 1996.
Even after retiring, Cox didn’t want to give up firefighting. He jumped into volunteering and continues to be a presence in the department today. In December, Cox received a certificate of appreciation from the fire company for his service.
“Once it’s in your blood, it’s in your blood,” Cox said. “You want to do it until you can’t do it anymore.”
Cox is also heavily involved with the Haddonfield Celebrations Association, the organization running Haddonfield’s Fourth of July Fireworks and Parade, Halloween Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony and Santa Parade.
Cox originally got involved with the organization while serving as fire chief more than 25 years ago. His first foray into the organization was to make sure everything was set up properly for the borough’s annual Fourth of July fireworks show.
Cox continues to do a lot of preparation work for the association. He spends a lot of time working with borough and county officials to make sure the association receives all of the proper permits for its events. Cox has also served as the marshal for both the Fourth of July and Halloween parades.
Cox said he has a lot of great memories from the borough’s many community events over the years. He also enjoyed working with the other Celebrations’ officers and volunteers.
“It’s a great committee,” he said. “There’s people on there who have been there a lot longer than I have. It’s a nice group that meshes well into place.”
Cox took another job about six years ago. He serves as a school crossing guard near Haddonfield Middle School, working the intersection of Chestnut Street and Lincoln Avenue.
Cox has also been a member of numerous other organizations over the years, including Haddonfield American Legion Post 38, the New Jersey Fire Chiefs Association, the Camden County Fire Chiefs Association and the Rotary Club of Haddonfield.
What Cox loves most about Haddonfield is how tight-knit the community is. He talks of spending time with other Rotary Club members and enjoys catching up with people he’s been friends with for many years.
“Your friends come in that you’ve known for years,” Cox said. “It’s a nice friendly town.”
Quigley feels Cox’s dedication to service and personality fits in perfectly with the culture in Haddonfield.
“There’s that humble sense of duty that’s part of what makes Haddonfield such a great town,” Quigley said.