Former Fort Lauderdale Mayor Robert "Bob" Cox passed away Saturday in the early morning hours at his summer home in the Thousand Islands area of upstate New York, according to the City. He was 95.
City officials said Cox served as Mayor of Fort Lauderdale from 1986 to 1991. Prior to his tenure as Mayor, Cox was on the Fort Lauderdale City Commission for nearly two decades and also served as a longtime member of the City's Marine Advisory Board.
Cox helped build the marine industry into Fort Lauderdale's leading economic engine under his leadership, which today, according to the city, accounts for more than 134,000 jobs, gross wages and earnings of $3.7 billion in Broward County, and a total economic impact of $13.6 billion in South Florida.
"Fort Lauderdale has lost one of its legendary leaders, who had a deep love and appreciation for our community," said Fort Lauderdale Mayor John P. "Jack" Seiler. "We are grateful to Mayor Cox for his years of distinguished service to our City and his countless contributions to the progress and advancement of Fort Lauderdale. Our thoughts, prayers and support are with his family during this difficult time."
Working with local, state and national marine industry organizations, Cox successfully attracted the Whitbread Round the World Race, now known as the Volvo Ocean Race, to Fort Lauderdale, strengthening the City's reputation as the "Yachting Capital of the World."
In the mid 1980s, city officials said Cox was instrumental in launching Fort Lauderdale's transformation from a seasonal Spring Break destination to a year-round family resort and business center. He led the effort to shed Fort Lauderdale's image as a mecca for college students by working with his colleagues to pass a strict ordinance prohibiting public drinking.
An avid boater, Mayor Cox arrived in Port Everglades in 1946 aboard a deep draft motor sailer. At the time, the city said he was surprised to discover that there was no place in Fort Lauderdale where the water was deep enough to dock his 9-foot draft boat.
Two years later, in 1948, Cox opened Lauderdale Marina, a business that he continued to successfully operate for the next 65 years. Today, city officials said the Cox family continues to run the marina, which is recognized as one of the major fuel docks on the Intracoastal Waterway providing dockage, boat sales, parts and repair services, along with operating the landmark 15th Street Fisheries restaurant.
Mayor Cox served on Fort Lauderdale's Citizens Committee of Recognition, which annually recognizes outstanding contributions made by local citizens from a variety of fields. City officials said he was also an enthusiastic participant in the City's 2011 Centennial Celebration.
Cox was honored as Fort Lauderdale's "Distinguished Citizen" in 1994 and as the City's "Honored Founder" in 2008.