Marvin R. Cox of Chaplin, CT, died on May 1, 2020 at Windham Hospital in Willimantic of complications following a stroke. He is survived by his wife, Diane Kane Cox, and his daughter, Katherine Cox, of New York City.
Marvin was born on October 20, 1934, in Savannah, GA to Marvin Hill Cox and Mary (Rountree) Cox. He grew up in Washington DC, Maryland, and Atlanta, but spent much of his childhood with his maternal grandparents in Twin City, GA where the Rountree family had lived for many generations. He always felt a deep bond with “the home place,” and its surrounding pine forests, ponds, and red dirt roads where he roamed freely and happily.
Marvin left Georgia at 16 to attend the Episcopal High School of Virginia at Alexandria.
There he discovered the scholarly interests that led to his career—history, particularly of France, language, and literature. He went on to Yale University from which he graduated in 1957 with a history major. He received a master’s degree in 1959 and a doctorate in 1966, also from Yale. He was a fluent speaker of French.
Marvin began his academic career as an instructor at the University of Rhode Island. In 1966 he was appointed to the history faculty at UConn where he remained until his retirement in 2002. He taught Western Civilization and specialized undergrad and graduate courses in French history. He headed the Co-op program which maintained a working relationship between high school and university teachers. He was co-director for one year of the Center for European Studies.
With Professor Lawrence Langer he worked on two grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities to create a model course in Western Civilization for high school and college students and on a state grant to design a course for the same groups in World History.
In 1998 his book, The Place of the French Revolution in History was published by Houghton Mifflin.
One of his most rewarding experiences at UConn was in helping establish a chapter of the American Association of University Professors which became the collective bargaining agent for the faculty. He served on its board, as Vice President, and as President.
His greatest pride was in his students who went on to become history teachers and professors themselves.
Marvin and Diane Cox bought a house on Chaplin St. in Chaplin in 1973. He came to love its landscape and enjoyed hiking in the state forests as well as in the camaraderie of village politics and social gatherings. He loved talking about politics at all levels. He was active in re-establishing a Democratic Party in Chaplin and served as its Chair and as an active member for a number of years.
He was also a founding member of the Chaplin Historic District and was its Chair for a number of years. He worked on a state grant to repair and maintain the William Ross Library.
During his retirement years he continued to pursue scholarly interests by doing extensive research and writing on the French writer and historian Alexis de Tocqueville and his philosophy of the causes of the French Revolution.
Marvin passed on his love of France to his wife and daughter and they spent much time on trips, long and short, in Paris with side trips to Normandy, the south of France, and Brittany. He had his own French “family” with whom he had stayed as an 18 year old and numerous French friends. He served as one semester as a visiting professor at the University of Marne-la-Vallee.
Marvin’s remains will be interred at the Russ Cemetery in Chaplin at a private burial service. Contributions in his memory may be made to one of the organizations he supported: the Covenant Soup Kitchen, WAIM, the Slater Museum in Norwich, Joshua’s Trust.
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