Kenneth O. Cox, whose career as a Seventh-day Adventist evangelist spanned decades, continents, and time zones, passed to his rest on July 3, 2019 at the age of 84. Cox, who lived near Loma Linda, California, United States, succumbed following heart surgery.
“Kenneth was the real deal,” recalled Phillip Lynn Draper, communication director for the Arizona Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, who worked with Cox for 10 years in the 1970s and remained a lifelong friend. “He studied, he planned, he was a workaholic, his whole life was ministry—and his family, too—even till the day he died.”
Born on August 22, 1934 in Chicago, Illinois, Kenneth O. Cox was the son of two Oklahomans, Otto and Laura Cox. The family was in Chicago because of Otto’s work but eventually relocated to Oklahoma, where Kenneth grew up. In his 2010 memoir, “Called to Serve,” Cox recalled a childhood marked by his mother’s illness, a non-malignant brain tumor, and his father’s sometimes abusive behavior.
In the midst of their struggles, Laura Cox found a copy of Signs of the Times magazine tucked into a neighbor’s mail-order catalog. Reading an article on the Bible Sabbath, Laura began Bible studies with an Adventist pastor; eventually, she and Kenneth were baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Kenneth attended Adventist boarding school and what is today Southwestern Adventist University in Keene, Texas, graduating in 1955. He also studied at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, at the time located in Takoma Park, Maryland.
Cox initially served in churches in Texas and New Mexico, briefly interning under H.M.S. Richards, Jr., who would later serve as speaker-director of the Voice of Prophecy media ministry. Kenneth then was called to the Chesapeake Conference as an evangelist, which was followed by evangelistic work in Oklahoma, Arizona, Kentucky, and Tennessee. His first wife, Marilyn, passed away in 1974 following a brief illness.