Former SEMO administrator Pauline Fox dies at her home

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Pauline Fox did more than hook fish. She hooked people with her contagious smile and her can-do attitude.

A former vice president at Southeast Missouri State University, Fox, 59, died Saturday at her Cape Girardeau home from cancer of the esophagus.

University president Dr. Ken Dobbins fondly remembered Fox, who loved to fish when she wasn't handling administrative duties on campus.

"She always was willing to go that extra mile to do what it took to assist the university and the students," he said. "She will be sorely missed by all of us."

Fox taught and handled various administrative duties at Southeast for 24 years before retiring in December 2002 with a pledge to join her retired husband on bass fishing trips.

Her last full-time role was as vice president of administration and enrollment management, a position she held for more than three years.

But retirement couldn't keep her away. When Dobbins called, she came back temporarily to handle other administrative duties.

She served for a time as interim director of human resources and as interim assistant to the president on two occasions.

"If we needed something, she would be the first to volunteer to do it," Dobbins said.

Fox began teaching at Southeast as an assistant professor of marketing before moving into economics in 1979. She later chaired the economics department.

Provost Dr. Jane Stephens started out teaching history at Southeast in what was then the college of social sciences. In the late 1970s, the college of social sciences had only three women faculty members, Stephens said. Stephens and Fox were among the group.

"She was always upbeat, a very quick problem-solver," Stephens recalled.

Stephens and Fox became close friends. "We were both single parents off and on," Stephens said.

Fox, she said, had a good sense of humor. "We always laughed," Stephens said.

As professor of economics, Fox received the university's Faculty Merit Award in 1987. She was named Missouri professor of the year in 1988 by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.

Fox moved into administrative duties in the early 1990s.

But Fox's character never changed, Stephens said. "She always knew how to enjoy life"

As part of her job as vice president, Fox oversaw the facilities management department, which takes care of the school's buildings and grounds.

Appreciative department employees gave her a rod and reel and a six-pack of Stag beer as retirement presents.

Dobbins gave her a jar of M&Ms. She loved to eat the candy in the jar he kept in his office, the president explained when Fox retired.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Friday at Ford and Sons Mount Auburn Chapel.

Survivors include her husband, Jerry Fox, of Cape Girardeau, her mother and stepfather, June and Glen Weaver of Creston, Iowa; a son, Matt Merriman of Portland, Ore.; a daughter, Sally Merriman of Boston; two stepdaughters, Laura Fox of St. Peters, Mo., and Krista Fox of Clayton, Mo.; a half-brother, Paul Haaf of Overland Park, Kan., and a granddaughter.

For details on Fox's visitation and funeral, see the obituaries on Page 7A today.

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