Cox: A true friend to nature, to the very end

Doug Boock
Bob Cox, longtime author of the Backlashes outdoors column in the Galva News, was devoted to nature. He died Sunday.

Bob Cox liked the outdoors, and he felt nature’s gifts ought to be appreciated.

Galva Mayor Tom Hartman knew that first-hand. Hartman, who owns a trucking business, said Cox’s appreciation for natural beauty was evident many years ago when Cox joined him on a trip to Peoria.

 “Look how pretty it is along the roadways,” Hartman recalls Cox telling him during the drive. “It’s pretty sad, Tom, when you drive down the road and people don’t have any respect for Mother Nature and the beauty she can provide you.”

Cox, a respecter and friend of nature to the end, died Sunday. He was 81.

A burly man, especially in his younger years, Cox liked hunting and fishing. He also enjoyed watching birds and nature in general.

That love prompted him to author “Backlashes,” an outdoors column in the Galva News, for over 30 years. Ill health the past few years disrupted his writing considerably, but not before he carved a niche in outdoor writing circles.

“Bob was a frequent visitor at our home in LaFayette,” said Bud McKirgan, former Galva News general manager, “stopping often to compare notes with my Dad, Lowell T. McKirgan, who was a game warden. Over time, he became a state-recognized writer on conservation issues, through his column based in the Galva News.”

Cox loved taking his son and daughter, Jamie and RoAnne, fishing when they were young. Occasionally, he’d share memories of those times his column. He often urged his readers to share those times with their young ones, too.

Cox could be both cantankerous and willing to give an encouraging word to others.

“He didn’t always get along with everyone but it always washed in the end,” explained Alan Ericson of Galva, who worked with Cox many years at the Galva post office.

“Bob could appear kind of grumpy,” agreed McKirgan, “and it was probably this quality that endeared him to my Mom (the late Aina McKirgan), who allowed that Bob was a ‘pretty good guy.’”

He was more than that, though. He also was a World War II veteran, tutored school children, umpired kids baseball games, was a champion bowler in his early years and was a longtime stamp collector. 

For more of this story, see the March 19 Galva News.