Cox, 74, suffered a stroke Wednesday afternoon while at the office of state Rep. Eric Watson.
For more than 50 years, Cox has been a member of Bradley County Fire-Rescue which began as Civil Defense, and the Lee Atchley Memorial Rescue Squad under director Morris Greene.
The veteran rescuer has held many distinctions since beginning service in 1954.
He was a full-time fireman with the Cleveland Fire Department, a reserve officer for the Bradley County Sheriff's Office, a volunteer fireman for the city, acting chief of rescue, assistant chief, and site safety officer and lieutenant for Bradley County Rescue Service.
He celebrated his 50th year of service to Bradley County and Cleveland in 2004.
"I feel everyone has a calling and has been placed in the world to do something," said Cox, during an interview about his golden milestone. “I believe emergency services volunteering was mine.”
“Someone who we consider family and a dear friend suffered a massive stroke today,” said Stan Clark of Bradley County Emergency Medical Service Wednesday evening. “Anyone who has been in the emergency business in Bradley County for any period of time knows Ira and has learned something from him.”
Cox was transported by BCEMS to Erlanger in Chattanooga for treatment Wednesday.
He passed away shortly after 1 a.m.
Cox never had plans to retire.
He was named “Constable of the Year in 2008” and had more than 14 years of continuous service as a constable for Bradley County.
Cox said during the 2004 interview that he would continue to work as long as the “good Lord” and his health allowed him to.
He was 15 when he joined the primitive rescue unit, which at that time had poor funding and no real extrication equipment.
Cox became the first person in Bradley County to use the “Jaws of Life®” which is a tool used by rescuers to extricate car crash victims. He was instrumental in raising funding to purchase the piece of equipment which would aid in saving many lives.
“Constable Ira Cox was one of the most honest and just men in law enforcement. He was truly one of the good guys and he will be greatly missed in the state of Tennessee and right here in Bradley County,” Watson said.
“Constable Ira Cox was just not a friend to Bradley County, but to the whole state of Tennessee. Ira truly understood the meaning of words like ‘courage’ and ‘duty’ — not just understood them, but, embraced them, as well. Those words were written on his heart,” Watson said.
“Ira may have left us in body, but, not in spirit. We can only become better for preserving and honoring the memory of people like Ira Cox who lived to served his family, friends, and country. It is because of his heart for service and his willingness to sacrifice as a Bradley County constable that we continue to live in the greatest country on earth,” Watson added.
“In this dark world, a nation rooted in freedom must, by necessity, be watered with blood. God had promised us that one day there will be an end to crime and war. Until then, men of courage and honor like Ira Cox will continue to stand in the gap. To [his wife] Virginia, the family, and friends of Ira Cox — this community hurts with you. May God grant you comfort, peace, and understanding” Watson said.
Former constable Charlie McKenzie and Cox were elected to their posts in their respective districts in 1998.
“Ira always took his job very seriously. He will be greatly missed by all of the emergency services community,” McKenzie said this morning.
According to Cox’s wife, Virginia, Ralph Buckner Funeral Home and Crematory will be in charge of arrangements, which will be announced in Friday’s Banner.