William Milner Bill Cox (1928-2020)
Former parliamentarian William Milner Cox, a member of the vaunted “Class of ’68”, has died. He was 91.
Mr Cox was among a group of MPs who won seats in the 1968 election and were to make their mark on the Bermudian political landscape in the following decades.
The 1968 election is widely considered the beginning of the modern political system in Bermuda.
Mr Cox, widely known as Bill, served as a United Bermuda Party MP in Devonshire South from 1968 to 1976, and again from 1980 until his retirement in 1993. He also served as Minister of Education.
Writing in the book Seeking Truth, Mr Cox said of his time as an MP: “I put the National Trust Act 1971 through the House of Assembly and sponsored a few Private Bills including daylight saving time, decriminalisation of homosexuality and the abolition of capital punishment. The latter two were defeated, but subsequently have been passed.”
He also tabled a motion in 1974 for leaner penalties for minor drug offences.
Mr Cox was educated at Saltus Grammar School and from 1943 onwards at Trinity College School in Port Hope, Ontario.
In Seeking Truth, he wrote: “By 1943, the threat of Nazi U-boats had abated … I was one of 16 boys and girls who in September boarded a small freighter, Fort Amherst, that plied Bermuda-New York. We were given life jackets and there were other precautions in case we were torpedoed. Those of us destined for TCS went by train to Port Hope. We stayed in Canada during Christmas and Easter school vacations until the war was over.”
Mr Cox earned a bachelor of arts degree, with a major in history, at Trinity College, University of Toronto, in 1951.
A keen sportsman, he played on the Trinity College soccer team, serving as its captain during his last year at the school.
While in Canada, he volunteered for the Canadian army.
Mr Cox wrote: “One had to be fit, join for at least two years, attend parades during term time and spend at least 16 weeks each summer in army camp. I have a Commission as Lieutenant in the Canadian Army signed by Alexander of Tunis who was Governor General at the time.”
Mr Cox was Bermuda’s Rhodes Scholar in 1951. He attended Corpus Christi College at Oxford University, graduating in 1953 with a degree in jurisprudence. He was later called to the English Bar.
Mr Cox wrote that he occasionally played on the Corpus Christi soccer team, but his primary athletic interest was rowing, and he was on the Corpus “first eight” during his two years there.
Returning to the island, Mr Cox was called to the Bermuda Bar in 1956. He worked at the Bank of Bermuda and later at law firm Appleby Spurling&Kempe before going into partnership with his second cousin, David Wilkinson, to establish the firm Cox&Wilkinson, now Cox Hallett Wilkinson.
In 1970, Mr Cox became honorary consul for the Netherlands in Bermuda, serving in the position for more than 20 years. Upon his retirement, he was made a Knight in the Order of Orange-Nassau.
Mr Cox is survived by his wife, Rosanna, children Diana, David, Sarah, and Amanda, and stepchildren Tara, Rufus and Henry.
A family funeral service, to which family and close friends are invited, will be held at Old Devonshire Church on Middle Road, Devonshire, tomorrow at 2pm.
William Milner Cox, lawyer, politician, was born on December 21, 1928. He died on July 30, 2020, aged 91
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