'Miss Okotoks' retiring after 28 years

Okotoks: Marg Cox leaving a strong legacy with the town

By: Don Patterson

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 12:18 pm

Okotoks community events co-ordinator Marg Cox enjoys a few final moments on the job on Monday afternoon at the Okotoks Recreation Centre before retiring after 28 years with the Town.
Okotoks community events co-ordinator Marg Cox enjoys a few final moments on the job on Monday afternoon at the Okotoks Recreation Centre before retiring after 28 years with the Town.
Don Patterson/OWW

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There’s something missing at the Okotoks Recreation centre this week.

Marg Cox – aka “Smiling Marg” and “Miss Okotoks” retired on Monday after 28 years working with the Town of Okotoks.

Staff at the Okotoks Recreation Centre, where Cox’s office was located, say her retirement leaves a large void in both the centre and the town.

“We won’t have her smiling face to say hi to everybody,” said Susan Laurin, Okotoks community services manager.

She said the centre will be a different place without Cox around and not just for the staff. Laurin said Cox made people feel comfortable at the recreation centre – like it was their own home.

“She really wanted to say welcome to Okotoks, not just the rec centre,” she said.

As Cox looks back on her time with the Town she said the people she had the opportunity to work with made it all worthwhile.

“That’s the best part,” she said. “I really enjoy being around people, I enjoy being active and engaging with people.”

Cox spent the last five years as the Town’s community events co-ordinator and became the face of the Town at many of the annual events in Okotoks.

Cox said the events she worked on helps to bring the community closer together.

“Although we’ve grown by leaps and bounds I think it’s helped to keep a little bit of a small town feel,” said Cox. “People see you and recognize your face.”

Cox started working with the Town 28 years ago. Born in Ontario, Cox moved to Okotoks from Edmonton in 1981. She started as the Town’s recreation programmer. Six months later Cox became the recreation centre manager, a position that included overseeing the Town’s parks department. In 1989, she took over the Town’s client services department before becoming events co-ordinator in 2007.

Cox started three annual events, which has grown to 30 held annually over the course of a year.

Of all the different events through the year, her favourite is the annual Light Up Okotoks celebration in November.

“It really captures my soul,” said Cox. “I love the excitement and the thrill of the whole event.”

She also oversaw a number of different projects over the year, including the re-development of the Sheep River Park, construction of the first pathways along the river and the centennial clock on Okotoks’main street.

The construction of the Laurie Boyd pedestrian bridge was one of her favourites because she said it helped tie the community together. The bridge connects the north and south ends of the community and is next to the Okotoks Public Library.

She worked on the planning process for the bridge and literally helped put it together – screwing the bridge-deck’s boards into place.

Mayor Bill Robertson said Cox is leaving a big legacy with the community. He said she was able to gain the trust of the community.

“Knowing Margie was there people were always able to put their trust in her that she always came through,” said Robertson.

He said his first memories of Cox are from the 1988 Winter Olympics when he brought students to the Okotoks Recreation Centre to watch figure skaters from the Soviet Union train in the Murray Arena.

Robertson said she put in countless hours to look after the figure skaters and make sure their needs were met. She also had a tough job keeping the crowds who came out to watch the skaters in training to rein in their enthusiasm.

“Of course you’re watching world class figure skaters and every time they pulled off their jumps, she had to go through the crowd saying ‘no applause’… of course they were practicing and were trying to concentrate,” he said.

Cox has also left a legacy in the Okotoks community away from her position with the Town.

Beth Kish, executive director of the Foothills Country Hospice, said Cox is always willing to answer the call of duty.

“She’s such an inspiration because she’s so dedicated to her community and she’s the true spirit of what volunteerism and bringing people together for a common cause is,” she said.

Cox is the president of the board for the Foothills Country Hospice Society. Kish said she was one of the original founders of the society and she played a big role in getting the facility built and open. As a member of the board, Kish said Cox has brought leadership to the board and a strong link to the Okotoks community.

As Cox enters retirement, she said it’s important to her to continue to be a part of the community and she is appreciative for the opportunity the position gave her and she was happy to be able to serve the community.

“I hope I’ve made a really positive contribution to the community,” she said. “I think I have, I certainly feel I have.”

Just because she’s retiring doesn’t mean she won’t continue to be a fixture at some events in town. She said she plans to continue to volunteer with different events in the community.

“Just because you retire from your job doesn’t mean you forget about it,” she said.


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