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Judge William J. Cox, who presided over Fredericksburg Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court for 17 years, died Friday.
He was 81.
Cox became a full-time judge in 1977 after nearly 20 years as an attorney in Fredericksburg. He was a graduate of James Monroe High School and the University of Virginia School of Law.
Judge David Peterson, who currently presides over the city's Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, said Cox's personality was "larger than life."
"He was a garrulous man" who loved interacting with people, Peterson said. "As a judge, he did not suffer fools easily. On the other hand, he wasn't mean and had a sense of humor."
Peterson said Cox was the second attorney he met after moving to Fredericksburg in 1973.
Known to friends as Jerry, Cox was born in Des Moines, Iowa, but his family settled in Fredericksburg two months after his birth.
He was appointed a substitute judge for Spotsylvania County in 1968, and also served as a substitute in various general district courts and J&DR court after retiring.
Stafford County Social Services issued him an award in 1995 in "recognition and appreciation of [his] lifelong commitment to abused and neglected children."
Cox raised a lot of children, which Peterson said enriched his ability as a judge.
Peterson said Cox would be the first to tell people he had a less-than-perfect life, but that helped him better understand those who came before him in court.
"Jerry had a rich life story," Peterson said.
"He brought that into the courtroom."
Cox's survivors include eight children and Carol Thayer Cox, his wife of almost 45 years. A memorial service will be held at Covenant Funeral Service in Fredericksburg at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402