Faces of Tamworth: the iconic Coxy

TROUBLED OR CAREFREE? Paul Cox, as some people will remember him. This shot captures a slice of the life of one of Tamworth’s favourite street characters. Photo: Steve Charles
TROUBLED OR CAREFREE? Paul Cox, as some people will remember him. This shot captures a slice of the life of one of Tamworth’s favourite street characters. Photo: Steve Charles

He may not have been a high-flying businessman, a big-hearted volunteer or a respected emergency services worker, but there’s no denying Paul ‘Coxy’ Cox was a Face of Tamworth. When this street character died in September of 2015, it was the loss of a local person who was always just “there” – part of the rich fabric of the Tamworth community. Here, we take a look back at the news of Coxy’s death and the many anecdotes and tributes it elicited from those who crossed paths with him.

SEPTEMBER 18, 2015:

TRIBUTES to Tamworth’s best-known street character, Paul Victor Cox, have flowed with an extraordinary outpouring of sadness about the man who had become a hometown icon.

The man better and affectionately known for years as Coxy died peacefully in Tamworth hospital on Friday of last week, and his death has prompted an incredible number of online tributes – much more than any reports of political coups this week could ever hope to. 

Family members told The Leader that if he was looking down now, he would be wondering what all the fuss was about.

Others have joked about the fact Coxy could never imagine he’d be a social media star – because he was a man who’d left such mundane technological miracles way behind.

Other residents and visitors who had come across him or known him since his younger days have posted thoughts on social media sites and a tribute page on The Northern Daily Leader website. 

READ ALL THE TRIBUTES

Although his reputation stems from the many years he spent living on Tamworth streets, he secured accommodation in South Tamworth with some help from a local charity and a lot of friends.

His declining health led to a placement in a care facility prior to his hospitalisation. 

One poet was even driven to write a piece of poetry about Paul. See below some of the heartfelt words paid to Coxy.

Here’s what some people said (posts are unedited):

MISSED: Paul Cox gave up a lot in his life, but his love of lollies wasn’t one of them.

MISSED: Paul Cox gave up a lot in his life, but his love of lollies wasn’t one of them.

Steve Charles: RIP, Coxy. My favourite memory of you on the first warm sunny day after winter 2013, laying back soaking up the heat and having a smoke, not a care in the world. Tamworth will not be quite the same without you.

Helen Garske, Tamworth: You were a legend Coxy. You will be missed. Now at peace. RIP Coxy

Vicki Jennar: My comment for today is “you gotta spare smoke?”. 

Marilyn Watt: Isn’t it amazing that someone who had nothing in this material world will be remembered fondly and truly missed. Makes you wonder if maybe he had the better life.

Selina, Noosa, Queensland: I’ll never forget your rowdy conversations on the corner of Crockett St. May you have a better life in your next journey mate.

Brian Daley, Tamworth: Rest in peace Paul. You were always polite and well mannered and will always be remembered Regards Brian. aka Spike

Christine Lowe, Werris Creek: I remember people saying the name Coxy. I didn’t know who you were at first until you asked me for some money for a 600ml milk. Which you did actually buy as I was standing there. I was glad that I could help you. You will be missed by many.

Warwick Keen, Nowra: Coxy will be greatly missed. A reminder to us all about our own humanity.

Rachel, Tamworth: RIP awesome guy. I remember you use to go and eat oranges off my brothers orange tree and you had a talent for music with your one string guitar. Also your best imaginary friend was cool. The most saddest thing was seeing you ill. Thank god you’re not in pain anymore. God bless and wishing you well on your eternal travels to be with people who love you.

Annette Seymour, Maryborough: RIP. Always a familiar face on the streets of Tamworth.

Sue Sutherland, Curlewis: RIP now you will have a nice warm bed up in the fluffy white clouds.

Tracey Page: RIP. Coxy you were an important part of Tamworth and will be missed

Gloria Kelly: RIP Coxy. Tamworth won’t be the same without you.

Clay Cleadus Potter: Tamworth’s main attraction has left the building. RIP

Gordon Guyer: RIP Paul Victor.

Tania Marshall: RIP Coxy. I will miss sharing a cigarette with you. May your journey to everlasting peace be a good one.

Jacqueline Allen: Its going to be different not seeing him. He will be sadly missed and he was as harmless as a butterfly RIP Coxy

Cyndi Steven McDonald: RIP Coxy

Candy Marle: That’s very sad news he was a very colourful man around Tamworth. He asked my mum on a date once because she gave him a day old pie. He was hungry and hadn’t had anything to eat or money.

Corey Nathan Langenbaker: Somebody start a petition to get Coxy’s statue on a seat down on Peel St. He deserves it. He kept that street clean for decades.

Chris, Perth: Remember this lively character in Tamworth when I lived there. Everyone knew his name. Tamworth icon alright.

Benjamin, Kallangur, Queensland: Having grown up in Tamworth I was utterly devastated to hear the news of Coxys passing. I remember giving him five bucks and a few smokes. RIP mate, may you have all the clothes, food and warmth you need.

*****

For Coxy

By Peter Langston

When Paul died,

the sun fell across his bench

but finding it empty,

warmed it for a passerby

who might fall 

beyond the fringe,

to hide in plain view

but out of sight.

When Paul died,

haters competed with

the compassionate

for column space,

arguing the importance

of appearance,

demeanour

and what they might have done.

When Paul died,

the Leader splurged,

donating four sentences:

one less than the fingers

on one life-smeared hand

long since disengaged

from seeking humanity

or a spare cigarette.

When Paul died,

the chance for sweet innocence,

for compassion,

left with him, 

for not everyone mocked

or recoiled

when told

to get f***ed.

When Paul died,

the adults who inhabit my children

remembered a hot summer,

a hat,

rebuttal

and a lesson 

that keeps them giving,

grateful of opportunities.

When Paul died,

one or two cared enough

to tell his story.

More than some

less than most,

whilst passers by

noticed nothing

on Peel St

but an empty bench.

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