Cox, Dean remembered fondly by friends, residents

Published 9:59 pm Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Bainbridge lost two beloved icons Monday with the passing of the “Queen of Arts,” Mary Barber Cox (84) and Douglas D. Dean (85).
Cox passed away at Memorial Hospital and Manor, where she had resided for the last several months.
Service for Mrs. Cox will be held at 2 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 26, at First Baptist Church of Bainbridge. Interment will follow in Oak City Cemetery.
“Her touch is everywhere,” Joyce Leverett, a leading supporter of the arts, said. “She taught so many of the young people in Bainbridge.”
She recalled her son Jay and his friends from elementary school all went to her home to take art lessons after school. She also recalled how she would make her talent available for the silent auction held annually by the Memorial Hospital Foundation. The winning bidder would receive a Cox painting of their house.
“I have one, and so do lots of people in town have one,” Leverett said.
Vera Custer and Evelyn Knight were members in an adult class and were her students for 45 years.  Vera said they all became very close friends. She and Evelyn went to see Mary just this last Saturday. “I’m so glad we stopped by when we did,” she said. “She was a wonderful person and a wonderful artist. I learned so much from her.”
Another artist, Vicki Harrell Bailey said she began to study with Mary Cox when she was in third grade.
“She was a great mentor, and I stayed in touch with her,” Bailey said. “When I came back to town, I began studying with her again. Her creativity has been a big part of what I have become. She will be missed greatly.”
Each year since 1991, the Bainbridge Downtown Development Authority has chosen an historic building from the vast inventory of pen and ink drawings done by Bainbridge’s own Mary Barber Cox to be the subject of the annual Bainbridge Christmas ornament. And, each year until this one, Mary Barber Cox has sat in Willis Park at the annual Christmas Holiday Open House and personally signed the ornaments.
She began doing the drawings of historic buildings in the 1970s when her husband, Walter, was then mayor of Bainbridge. She turned them into Christmas cards and people were so pleased to receive them that she continued the practice after he was elected to the state legislature.
Bainbridge folks are very familiar with Cox’s drawings, as they are also displayed in many businesses around town, including the enlarged ones on canvas that adorn the walls of Crave Eatery.
At the Nov. 18, 2014 meeting of the City Council, Mayor Edward Reynolds issued a proclamation proclaiming Sunday, November 23, 2014 as Mary Barber Cox Day in Bainbridge in recognition of her many hours and 24 years dedicated to the Holiday Open House.
Dean was born Sept. 4, 1929, and raised in Decatur County and was the fourth generation of Deans to farm in the county. In 1963 he was awarded the Decatur County Young Farmer of the Year award, which was the first of many awards he would earn up though the 1980s.
He was chairman of the Georgia Peanut Commission in the 1970s and served as director for Production Credit Association for more than 20 years.
In 2008 he was selected as the Bainbridge-Decatur County Chamber of Commerce Ag Man of the Year.
He served as a Decatur County commissioner for more than 10 years and on the tax assessor board for four years.
The funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 28, at Prosperity Primitive Baptist Church with Rev. Steve Poppell officiating. Interment will follow at Prosperity Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery with his nephews serving as active pallbearers. The family will receive friends immediately following the service in the church.

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