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Published: Wednesday, 2/8/2006

Anti-smoking cause was man's passion

Richard E. Fox, 58, a third-generation farmer who in a 2004 television commercial revealed a hole in his throat and told of his cancer caused by second-hand smoke as he urged Toledo voters not to weaken a smoking ban, died Monday in his Oregon home.

He died of colon and stomach cancer that had spread to the liver, conditions unrelated to the cancer he had in the late 1980s that led to the removal of his larynx, his wife, Barbara, said.

Mr. Fox was featured in the ads leading up to the November, 2004, election. He did not smoke, but his mother, uncle, friends, and co-workers did.

"I got my cancer probably from the secondhand smoke of others," Mr. Fox said during a 2004 news conference. His brother, also a nonsmoker, died at 38 from cancer of the tongue, jaw, and neck.

Voters approved the initiative, which allowed smoking in more public places than Toledo's original smoking ban.

For more than a decade before the commercial, Mr. Fox was active in the Laryngectomy Club and gave talks at schools about smoking.

He was recruited to the club by its founder, Rudy Dupler. After his surgery, Mr. Fox learned a method that allowed him to talk.

For the students, "it kind of sunk in" when he talked about his cancer, the laryngectomy, and how he and his family were affected, said Mr. Dupler's wife, Donna, who helped coordinate club members' speaking schedules.

Cheryl Horn, facilitator of the smoking cessation program at Toledo Hospital, said students "would suddenly realize that smoking really could do all of the terrible things that we said it would do, and you actually have to live with the results.

"I always introduced him as my hero," Ms. Horn said.

He had no hobbies and kept busy with the support group and his volunteering. He believed that through speaking, "he could have an impact, and his life and the life of his brother could have meaning," his wife said.

His father, Arthur "Cap" Fox, grew wheat, corn, and sugar beets in Oregon and grew potatoes near Homer, Mich., which they trucked to Oregon and sold to wholesalers. He took over farming when his father died in 1997.

During slow times, he worked for a construction company and a quarry, drove a bread truck, and, most recently, worked at Tireman Auto Service Centers.

Mr. Fox had an associate's degree from the University of Toledo and was a member of First St. John Lutheran Church.

Surviving are his wife, Barbara, whom he married July 29, 1972; daughter, Lisa Beymer; son, Michael, and brother, James.

Services will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday in the Eggleston Meinert Pavley Funeral Home, Oregon Chapel, where the body will be after 4 p.m. tomorrow.

The family suggests tributes to the Hospice of Northwest Ohio or the American Cancer Society.



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