Bert and Caroline Cox
Though his name may not be recognizable on campus, there are many Arizona State University students who have experienced in the past or who will benefit from in the future the generosity and quiet philanthropy of the late Bert Cox.
One of Bert's closest friends was Lonnie Ostrom, past president of the ASU Foundation for A New American University and a current professor of marketing at the W. P. Carey School of Business. "I first met Bert when he contacted the foundation about making a planned gift to ASU," said Lonnie. "He was passionate about education and believed everyone should have an opportunity if they wanted it."
Lonnie worked with Bert on that first gift — a charitable gift annuity — and similar gifts in future years. Their friendship would span two decades. Remembers Lonnie, "I have many fond memories of our monthly visits, sitting in matching recliners, eating a slice of homemade chocolate pie."
Bert was a self-taught and self-made man. Leaving home at age 14 to work in the Texas oil fields, his formal education ended in the ninth grade. At the age of 16, he moved to Tucson and worked in the hotel industry. It was there he met his future wife of 70 years, Caroline.
Bert and Caroline then moved to Phoenix where he built his successful company from the ground up. He invested in land and cattle and created the only multifamily housing community in Phoenix. There, he also developed golf courses and other ventures. Along the way he and Caroline also encountered profound tragedy — the death of their only son, Benny, at age 17, in an accident.
Together, Bert and Caroline were steadfast supporters of ASU. She especially enjoyed the performances at Gammage and they both attended football games. After the first annuity, Bert and Caroline would go on to establish a total of 11 in all.
During that time, Lonnie and Bert discussed his making a future gift to the foundation through his estate. "Bert wished he had gone to college," said Lonnie. "Helping future students realize their dream was important to him. With an estate gift, ASU became a member of his family."