David Leo Cox died on March 22, 2022 in Salt Lake City, Utah at the age of 81. He was born on July 13, 1940 in Springville, Utah to Leo Alfred Cox and Rae Gabbitas Cox. As an infant, he moved with his parents to Windsor Locks, Connecticut where his father had enlisted in the Army Air Corps at the beginning of World War II.
As a child, his life was spared when a transportation glitch prevented him and his mother from attending the circus in Hartford, Connecticut on July 6, 1944, which was engulfed in flames in one of the worst fire disasters in U.S. history. As a boy, he witnessed some of the first flights of the Sikorsky helicopter, a sight he later described to his unbelieving elementary school teacher in Utah. She reported him to his mother, who told the teacher that her son had indeed seen helicopters fly in Connecticut and that she should never again accuse her son of lying.
David grew up in Bountiful, Utah where he learned to fish and hunt from his father and grandfather, both of whom served as game wardens. He had a deep appreciation for music, and sang and was recorded in the Tabernacle as a boy. His church singing career, however, hit an impasse when he was asked to sing for the Junior Sunday School, and belted out while clapping, to the mortification of his mother, “Cigareets and Whiskey and Wild, Wild Women.”
David was precocious, and being bored in school, he built his own telescope, designed a rocket with which he launched a frog into the stratosphere, and surreptitiously tapped into a nearby power substation to generate lightning bolts in his bedroom, much to the astonishment of his younger brother Paul. While in high school, he became a glazier, and earned enough money at the trade to purchase his own car before he had a driver’s license. During this period, he began his interest in jazz, and became accomplished on the trumpet. When his parents were gone for the evening, he invited famous jazz performers visiting Lagoon over to jam.
Leaving high school, he joined the Strategic Air Command, where he became bomb navigator for B-52’s and became so adept at rapidly repairing malfunctioning electronic gear that the Air Force assigned him to quickly restore B 52’s to operational status. For his achievements, he was named “Airman of the Year.”
After military service he formed Cox Electronics and invented the first digital watch. He also pioneered electronic timing gear for sporting events, and played a key role in developing the television camera that the Apollo astronauts took to the moon. He later invented a non-invasive device to monitor fuel consumption by military aircraft.
David became an expert skier, and a member of the National Ski Patrol, where he served as an instructor in emergency medicine in the Intermountain region. David also loved travel, going after marlin in the Pacific, and enjoyed backpacking the deserts of Utah. He liked to paint and to write, and published the novel Secrets of the Immortals (2009), and a short story compilation Smog and the Salv and other Tales (2018). His blog “Musings by Ravo” gained a devoted international audience.
He is survived by his beloved wife Robyn Roberts Cox (Sandy, Utah), his sister Patricia “Toni” Tuckey (South Jordan, Utah), and his brother Paul Alan Cox (Jackson WY and Provo, Utah). A viewing will be held from 11:30 to 12:30 on Wednesday, March 30th at Anderson & Sons Mortuary Lone Peak Chapel, 6141 W 11000 N, Highland, UT 84003 followed by a graveside service at 1:00 PM at Utah Veterans Cemetery & Memorial Park, 17111 South Camp Williams Road, Bluffdale, Utah 84065. Please share a memory of David on his tribute wall.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of David Leo Cox, please visit our floral store.