Shocked and saddened. That's how many Richmonders say they felt upon learning of Ted Cox's death Dec. 9. It was a Saturday and he'd just cinched up a real-estate deal the day before. But that was Cox, the consummate closer.
Cox was 42. He acted so when it mattered, if business or some project he thought might affect the city's future were at stake. (Perhaps no one pitched a bolder case for a ballpark in Shockoe Bottom than Cox.) Yet in matters of the heart, he was happily adolescent. If anything in life tethered Cox, it was Richmond, the city he loved.
Cox's imprint extends regionally, but appears deepest in the city from developments he helped spark such as Plant Zero in Manchester and the restored Buggy Factory in Shockoe Bottom. His close friends say his dream was to restore urbanity to the city's most troubled neighborhoods.
The son of architect Frederic Hamilton Cox Jr. and Elizabeth Broaddus Cox, and brother to Meg and Ben, Cox graduated from St. Christopher's School and Hampden-Sydney College. And while he was proud of both alma maters, plenty of people say he was the biggest University of Virginia fan they ever met.
Cox was first a vice president of Thalhimer Commercial Real Estate, where he worked for two decades. In that time he managed what few people do: balance his professional and personal life with civic responsibility. He readily gave his time and money to city schools and charities.
City Council and the mayor knew Cox on a first-name, let's-do-lunch basis; so did some of the city's poorest residents. Those close to Cox say it's because he saw potential in every circumstance as much as in people themselves.
He served on numerous nonprofit boards, including the city's now defunct Industrial Development Authority. And while he was a member of The Country Club of Virginia and St. James's Episcopal Church, Cox was also at home with the city's starving artists, night owls and vagabonds typically people needing help or on the verge of it.
Cox drew an unlikely yet eclectic circle of friends, says Bill Chapman, Cox's longtime friend and business partner. Thanks to Cox, Chapman says, he's now president of the company the two founded, Fountainhead Development, and not working as a restaurant manager. "He had this incredible ability to put people together and open a lot of doors." Chapman says. "He was the eternal optimist." S