Donnell Cox (1950-2021), Aged 70, of Madill, Oklahoma, passed away January 27th, 2021 in Oklahoma City, OK of complications from the COVID-19 virus. He is the son of the late WG (Hap) and Bobbie (Montgomery) Cox, formerly of Ardmore, OK. A devoted husband of 23 years, he is survived by his wife Pam and their large, loving family. He is also survived by his sister Nancy Cox-Day, brother Terry Cox and sister in law Vicki Janis Cox and their families.
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Donnell was born in Greenville, OK and graduated from Turner high school in 1968 before attending Southeastern Oklahoma State University, where he earned both a Bachelor’s degree in History and Elementary Education, and later his Master’s Degree in Elementary Education/Administration.
Upon graduation, Donnell began a career as an educator, administrator, and mentor to teachers and students in Springer, Kingston, and Ardmore public schools where he served for 35 years. He was the Principal of Lincoln Elementary School for 19 years and Charles Evan Elementary School for 2 years before retiring in 2007. Throughout his career in education, Donnell’s focus was always on how to approach and reach each child as an individual. His philosophy, which endeared him to his students and their families, was “we don’t have the right to give up on kids; some kids are hard to love or help. If we approach a child in a way so they can feel our love, they will be receptive to learn from us.”
Following his retirement, Donnell assumed a full-time role at Sara’s Project – an organization he helped found in the early 1990s to assist schools in helping children deal with grief, trauma, and loss. Originally named the Crisis Support and Resource Association (C/SARA), Donnell served as a Crisis Education Specialist and later as the Chief Education Crisis Specialist until his passing. Donnell’s passion for the mission was one of the driving forces behind the organizations’ growth. From humble beginnings, Sara’s Project now trains teachers and school administrators, public officials, and Oklahoma National Guard leaders on suicide intervention, identifying and caring for victims of abuse and sexual assault, and resources available for leaders across the state. Donnell trained over 45,000 individuals in Suicide Prevention and Crisis Response, developed hundreds of crisis teams within school systems, and counseled countless individuals. His efforts saved thousands of lives from suicide and trained individuals from all over the world but focused his efforts on his beloved Southern Oklahoma. He described his long-time association and the success of Sara’s Project as his one of his “life’s greatest accomplishments.”
Outside of the classroom, Donnell was known as an accomplished musician. As the lead singer and guitar player for the “Arbuckle Express” from 1986-1998, he played throughout Oklahoma and north Texas, opening for renowned country stars like Merle Haggard, Reba McEntire, Ricky Skaggs, and many more. More recently however, he left country music and dancehalls behind to focus on gospel music, leading the Crystal River Band and serving as the music director at the Rawhide Cowboy Church of Carter County.
Family and faith were the hallmarks of his life. While he had a passion for music, history, and travel, “Papa D” was happiest simply spending time with his loving wife Pam and their blended family of eight children, twenty-one grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, and many bonus grandchildren who loved him like their own. Whether singing, fishing, playing games, or educating the younger generations on family history, Donnell took the most joy in being in the company of those he loved. When it comes to his family, he wants them all to remember, “no matter where they are, how far they are, or how different they are, they should never doubt that I love them.”
In addition to Pam, his wife of 23 years, Donnell, is survived by a large, loving blended family, including his four children and families: Kelli and Mike Donahue of Prosper, TX and their children Michael and Julienne (Sills), Rory, and Regan; Eric and Chrystal Cox of Norman, OK and their sons Jakob, Josh and Jaxon; Chad and Jordan Cox of Norman, OK and their boys Connor, Carson, Wriley and Walker; and Emily and Justin Orr of Ardmore, OK and their sons Cameron, Corbin, and Cruz.
He is also survived by his children by heart and their families, including children Devin and Tammy Daulton of Wichita Falls, TX, Kellie and Scott McKay of Whitesboro, TX, Codye and Paul Nelson of Chesapeake Bay, MD, and Kasey and Scott Davis of Madill, OK; grandchildren Dustin and Amy Daulton, Trent and McKenzie Daulton, Heather and Josh Parsons, Emilee and Scott Porter, Kaitlyn and Josh Rich, Dylan and Katt Nelson, Ethan Nelson, Jared Davis, and Natalie Davis; and great grandchildren Hunter Parsons, Kyle Daulton, River Parsons, Preston Nelson, and Greyson, Sadie and Peyton Rich.
Donnell was preceded in death by his former wife of 16 years, Donna (Duke), his parents Hap and Bobbie Cox, his brother Mike Cox and sister-in-law Vicki Cox.
Donnell Cox was so much to so many, but he was everything to his family. He was the best husband, father, Papa D, and friend you could ever want. He will be missed every day, but we will cherish his memory.
Visitation will be held at Alexander Gray Funeral Home in Wilson, OK on Monday, February 1st from 6pm-8pm. All attendees are required to wear protective masks.
A graveside service will be held for family members at the Oswalt Cemetery on Tuesday, February 2nd at 2:00 p.m. with Pastor Tim Jones and Pastor Trent Daniel officiating along with Johnny Ray Tynes speaking. Attendees are required to wear protective masks and practice appropriate social distancing. Also everyone attending are encouraged to a lawn chair and a lap blanket.
Serving as pallbearers will be Dustin Daulton, Josh Parsons, Michael Donahue, Dylan Nelson, Jakob Cox, Cameron Orr, Carson Cox, and Jared Davis. Honorary pallbearers include Donnell’s sons and sons in law, and dear friends and band members Charles McMillan, Phillip Black, Meryl Callis, Larry Edmond, Wayne Morton, Ronnie Nix, and Leslie Calhoun.
In honor of Donnell’s life of giving, in lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to Sara’s Project, P.O. Box 1396, Ardmore, OK 73402 or the Rawhide Cowboy Church, 1405 Gene Autry Rd, Ardmore, OK 73401.
Memories and photos may be shared online at www.alexanderfuneralhome.org