By Nelson A. King
Carmaletha Eileen Cox, the Vincentian-born matriarch of the Cox family in New York, died on May 23, at Brooklynâs Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, after a prolonged illness. She was 78.
Carmaletha Cox, also known as Elma Cox, went to the Great Beyond after suffering a series of medical complications, including five strokes, partial paralysis and diabetes.
Relatives and friends – trekking from as far away as Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia; and St. Vincent and the Grenadines – joined hundreds Tuesday and Wednesday, in Brooklyn, in paying their last respects at the viewing, wake, funeral service and interment.
Relatives described Cox as a teacher and friend, but most of all, âa queen,â who, simultaneously, was very simple. Yet, she was the âmost wonderful woman in the world,â who possessed âa heart of gold.â
These characteristics made her âthe richest woman in this world,â they said.
Relatives also said that she was very forthright, who held back no words to enunciate her sentiments.
âShe can always be counted on to speak her mind and tell you the truth,â they said. âAnyone, who was fortunate to be counted by her as a friend, knew they had a friend, indeed.
âHer laughter would be remembered most,â they added, âas she would sometimes laugh until tears streamed down her face.â
The Rev. Dr. Maxine Nixon, pastor of Fenimore United Methodist Church, corner of Fenimore Street and Rogers Avenue, Brooklyn, who conducted the funeral rites, said that the standing-room-only church demonstrated peopleâs love for Cox.
âSister Carmaletha Cox enjoyed a full life, yet she had pain,â she said. âTomorrow is not promised to anyone of us. The next moment is not promised to anyone of us. Just your presence shows that she touched many of us.â
Rev. Nixon urged the 400-odd mourners to obey the Commandments of God, including loving âthy neighbors as thy self,â and be prepared to meet âthy God.â
âSis. Carmaletha has already gone home,â she said. âThe message is to prepare to go home. If we have things in order, then we ought to be excited about going home.â
Fenimore United Methodist Church was Coxâs family church. The churchâs Chancel Choir – of which Coxâs younger sisters (registered nurses Joan Cox and Desma Dofflyn King) are members – also eulogized Sis. Cox in hymns and songs.
The eldest of 12 children of the late John and Muriel Cox, of the popular North Leeward village of Troumaca, in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Carmaletha Cox, was born on Aug. 19, 1926.
She attended the Troumaca Government School, and lived in that village and Redemption Sharpes, on the outskirts of Kingstown, the Vincentian capital, before migrating to the United States in 1977.
She helped her parents raise some of her younger siblings, and was described as very caring and industrious. In her youthful life, she received an award for embroidery and sewing.
After migrating with three of her eight children, Cox worked as a Home Health Aide until 1989. She then became a foster parent, taking care of two baby girls.
But while vacationing in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in 1998, she suffered her first and most severe stroke that left her paralyzed on her left side.
âYou have raised eight beautiful children,â read Coxâs last daughter, Desleen Cox-Vines, in a letter to her mother. âYou stood by my side. Thank you for making me the woman I am today.â
Cox-Vines, who lives in Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania, also revealed in her letter, which was later placed in the casket, that her mother had also survived breast cancer.
Seymour Cox, Carmalethaâs eldest of two sons in Queens, who is also a diabetic, said that his mother âpreached about loving everyone.â
âIâll miss my mother because itâs the strength of my mother why Iâm here today,â he said.
âShe was a woman of love,â said Conrad Johnson, the Barbadian-born chairman of the churchâs Pastor-Parish Relations Committee, who served as liturgist during Tuesdayâs Funeral service. âShe was a caring person.â
Besides Desleen and Seymour, Cox is survived by other children: Stella Williams and Grace John, of Troumaca and Redemption Sharpes, respectively; Sandra Solomon and Claudette âYahaâ Cox, of Brooklyn; Yvonne Cox, of Philadelphia; and last child, Keith Cox, who owns a Nissan dealership in the Bronx.
In addition to sisters Joan and Desma, she is also survived by sisters Ynolde James and Cordelia Omabuwa, of Brooklyn; and brothers, Alick Cox, of Washington, D.C.; Vyron Cox, of Vancouver, British Columbia; Colin Cox, of White Plains, Westchester County, New York; and last brother, Douglas Cox, of Brooklyn.
Carmaletha Cox had 31 grandchildren, 18 great-grand children, and one great-great-grand child. Interment took place Wednesday at Cypress Hills Cemetery, at the Brookyn-Queens corridor.
By Nelson A. King