Leon Whitfield Cox, Principal - S.I.I 1943-1953

A Soldier, An Educator, A Gentleman, A Gift

by James L. Murphy
Henderson, Tennessee - 3/2/02

I would like to include the following in your "stories" section of alumni website.

James L. Murphy, Henderson, Tennessee jmurphy@aeneas.net

Leon W. Cox moved to Camp Hill and became principal and teacher of The Southern Industrial Institute. He was there between the years of 1943-1953 after which time he moved to Hurtsboro, Alabama and was principal of the public high school. When he and his wife moved to Camp Hill, there was no place for them to rent so they had to put their furniture at the school for a period of time and live with a family. At some point, a very simple building on campus became available which they referred to as "the shack".

The Shack aka The Marlo Cottage (Date of photo - unknown)

The Shack
aka The Marlo Cottage
(Date of photo - unknown)

They fixed the place up and converted it into a comfortable living arrangement. It may have been what some call "the cabin", but I am not sure.* As a child I would visit them during the summer and have memories of his flower garden around their little house, sleeping on their screened porch, and being able to go into that very large classroom building on campus. I do believe there was a human skeleton in the science area, called Sunshine, which, of course fascinated a young boy. For the record, I wanted to include some information on this wonderful educator and gentleman. I have no doubt that he was an influence for good to a number of students who came through SII during those years. I put this information together in memory of him at the dedication of an American flag given to his wife upon his death, which I presented to Freed-Hardeman University (Henderson, Tennessee). I have been an educator for 30 years because of this man and have many wonderful memories from my association with him. I hope you find this of interest to you to include on your website (which I have found quite interesting).


Leon Whitfield Cox
A Soldier, An Educator, A Gentleman, A Gift

Tallapoosa Hall

Tallapoosa Hall

Leon W. Cox was born in Lowndes County Mississippi to Clarence and Molly Shackelford Cox, 24 October 1895. While a student at Mississippi Agricultural and Mechanical College, he volunteered for military service, 21 September 1917, to serve his country during World War I. Rising to the rank of Sergeant in the Sixth U. S. Infantry of the Fifth Division, he was engaged in the capture of Frapelle, St. Mihiel and the Argonne-Meuse Campaign and later served with General Pershing's occupation forces in Germany. Returning from Europe, Leon Cox completed a Bachelor of Science degree at Mississippi A & M and a Masters from the University of Alabama. He was a lifelong educator in Alabama, serving as teacher and administrator in public and private schools in Athens, Albertville, Northport, Camp Hill and Hurtsboro. He retired to his home in Mississippi in 1960 where he continued to substitute teach. This flag was presented to his widow, Genna Lou Murphy Cox, upon his death in 1970. Mr. Cox was a strong intellectual who could teach a number of subjects including math and the sciences. He took a special interest in his students and was admired, beloved and appreciated by many at every school with which he came in contact. His impact was felt on the lives of untold numbers of young people who had the privilege of coming under his influence. Leon Cox was a true gentleman and educator and a worthy role-model for any in the profession.

*Editor's Note:
"The Shack" and "The Cabin" were two different buildings. The Shack stood on the left side of the road behind the main entrance to the school. The Cabin was in woods just east of Lake Mary.