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Antique Boat Museum co-founder Cox dies at age 95

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CLAYTON — Robert O. Cox, 95, co-founder of the Antique Boat Museum, 750 Mary St., died Saturday at his home in Chaumont.

“We are deeply saddened by Bob’s passing,” said museum Executive Director Frederick H. “Fritz” Hager, who remembered Mr. Cox as an energetic man with a tremendous knowledge of boats and Thousand Islands history.

Mr. Cox was among a handful of boat enthusiasts who in 1967 founded the antique boat auxiliary of the Thousand Islands Museum, which became the Thousand Islands Shipyard Museum four years later. The museum’s name was changed to the Antique Boat Museum in 1990.

A trustee emeritus, Mr. Cox served on the museum board of trustees 30 years, from 1969 to 1999. He was given the Distinguished Trustee Award by the Antique Boat Museum five years ago and was one of only five people to receive the honor.

Mr. Cox also was the longest-serving docent at the museum — he gave tours until 2011, when he was 93 — and helped organize the museum’s first boat show in Clayton in 1964, according to a museum news release.

A Watertown native, Mr. Cox had homes in Chaumont, Grindstone Island and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where he opened the Lauderdale Marina — the oldest single-owner marina business in South Florida, according to its website — in 1948.

He also served as mayor of Fort Lauderdale from 1986 to 1992 and is credited with transforming the city into a yachting capital.

His wife, Georgia B., died only three months ago on March 18 at Samaritan Medical Center, Watertown.

“They were a charming couple who brought a lot to the community,” said Jack W. Miller, president of the Lyme Community Foundation, Chaumont.

The Coxes had donated the 19th-century Alexander Copley House to the foundation, which renovated the historical property — listed on the state and national registers of historic places — into a community center.

Mr. and Mrs. Cox also had been making annual donations to the Lyme Community Foundation to support its activities, Mr. Miller said.

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