William C. Cox (1930-2013): A Remembrance

Bill Cox, a member of our Board of Directors for nearly 40 years, passed away on May 1st. The following remembrance was written by founding board member and good friend Chris Weld.
By Christopher M. Weld

I first met Bill when my family rented a house in the summer of 1944 in Cohasset, a harbor town on Boston’s South Shore. He was a couple of years older than me, which usually makes a big difference at that age. But not to Bill, who immediately introduced me to his closest pals, and I became one of them – for life, as it turned out.
Bill’s family had a house at the head of the harbor which was so big that tourists used to drive in and sit by the pool thinking it was a hotel. They gave him everything a boy could want including, importantly, a sailboat, which became the focal point of most of our activities and a magnet for girls. Given this background he could easily have become a snob and a boor, but that never happened. He had a great smile and a ready laugh and treated all sorts and conditions with the same kindness and courtesy.

The things he set out to do, whether racing the sailboat or playing golf and tennis, he did well. In fact, he was a natural athlete and lettered in baseball, football and hockey. He was invited to try out by the Boston Bruins.

The war ended in 1945 and with it gas rationing. My father decided that henceforth we would summer in Maine as he did when he was a boy. Bill and I went to different schools and followed different career paths and thus were separated for a number of years during which I lost all contact with him. After college, Dow Jones, which the family controlled, marooned him in western Massachusetts where the Wall Street Journal was printed. Next they sent him to live in Detroit, a regional headquarters for the paper, where he sold advertising. Finally he went to London to oversee the creation of the European edition of the Journal.

After I graduated from law school, I took up residence on Boston’s North Shore and shifted from racing sailboats to fishing for tunas. I joined friends on several trips to Mexico and Panama where I hooked fish and fishing sank a big hook into me. This led to establishing a summer home on Nantucket, New England’s finest fishing town, and it turned out to be Cohasset all over again. Bill had been going to Nantucket for a number of years and, as he had in Cohasset, he introduced me to a large group of friends. Best of all, our wives became pals.

I bought a boat rigged to fish offshore and spent every weekend chasing swordfish. Bill came along for the ride from time to time and took the boat out occasionally when I went back to Boston. I think the opportunity to hook a swordfish was just the frosting on his cake. Like a lot of us, he savored the exhilaration and sense of completeness that running across a placid and boundless ocean can induce that is so hard to describe to anybody who has never ventured over the horizon. Sometimes he never said a word from the time we left the dock until we returned.

In the later 1960s we began to witness the growth of foreign fishing on Nantucket Shoals. We watched a handful of large foreign draggers morph into fleets that fished day and night, and we witnessed the devastation this was causing. Where once there had been large schools of baitfish with hungry predators feeding on them, there was just…nothing. Bill was as upset about this as I was, and our mutual disgust with the lack of interest on the part of our government was the platform off which the National Coalition for Marine Conservation [now Wild Oceans] was launched. Bill joined the NCMC Board when NCMC was in its infancy and remained a loyal supporter for the rest of his life. I will miss him for the rest of mine.

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