Dennis Cox, a former area businessman who served as Lambertville fire chief, died Thursday in Mercy St. Anne's Hospital. He was 57.
A resident for the last five years of Pensacola, Fla., Mr. Cox was diagnosed with esophageal cancer about five weeks ago and returned to the area to seek treatment at an Ann Arbor hospital, said his sister Gina Mercer.
Mr. Cox owned businesses in Toledo and Bedford and Whiteford townships, including the Firehouse 47 Bar and Grill in Ottawa Lake, which he sold before he moved to Florida.
"He had always been an entrepreneur, ever since he was young," his sister said.
He also was the district fire chief of the Lambertville station in Bedford Township from 1993 to 2002.
Mr. Cox grew up in the Trilby area in West Toledo. He graduated in 1972 from Whitmer High School and then entered the U.S. Navy.
After the service, he took jobs in a variety of career paths, including auto sales for Brondes Ford, driving trucks, and working for a greenhouse in Lambertville, Mrs. Mercer said.
He also owned One-Stop Emergency and Precision Flight Services, which sold hospital and medical supplies, and built a shopping center at Secor and Sterns roads.
Mr. Cox joined the township volunteer fire department in 1986 and was promoted to chief of the Lambertville district in 1993.
As a firefighter, he was instrumental in starting the safety program Smoke House to teach children how to safely escape from homes during fires and helped organized the 101 Dalmatians event in the Bedford Community Stadium, his family said.
In 1996, Mr. Cox ran unsuccessfully for Bedford Township supervisor as a write-in candidate.
Mrs. Mercer said her brother also collected items for the victims of hurricanes, including Ivan and Katrina. She said he organized collection drives and hauled the donations in trucks Florida and New Orleans.
"He did a lot of fund-raising to help out the community," Bedford Township Superintendent Walt Wilburn said.
Mrs. Mercer said he remained active during his "semiretirement" in Florida as he owned a granite counter top business that operates in Pensacola and Atlanta.
Surviving are his wife, Erin; son, Dennis; daughters, Crystal Tristani and Mindy Earl; mother, Jean Cox; brother, Ronald Cox; sisters, Connie Paxton, Peggy Mabrey, Gina Mercer, Luann Davis, and Beverly Doty, and six grandchildren.
Services will be at 1 p.m. Tuesday in the H.H. Birkenkamp Funeral Home.