Saying goodbye to an outstanding man
Whenever I needed/wanted to call Ralph Cox, 99 percent of the times it went like this:
“Hey Ralph, how are you doing?”
“I’m outstanding,” he would say.
One time he said he was fine, and I thought something was seriously wrong. That’s just who he was. He always made you feel better about yourself, and everybody is better for knowing him. It did not matter what was going on in his personal life or yours. He always was positive and would put a smile on your face.
Ralph died on Tuesday at the age of 80. His later years were spent as a sports correspondent for us. Before that, he worked at the Weirton Steel Corp. and as a full-time reporter. He also did a lot for his church and the Weirton community in general.
Words cannot describe what Ralph meant to each person that crossed his path. In my short four years I have known him, he meant a lot to this profession.
I knew when I was hired as sports editor that we had Ralph for Weirton, as well as Brooke and Oak Glen every now and then. He cared so much about local sports that it was more than just a paycheck. He considered retiring the last few years, and probably would have when the 2021 football season starts.
But, something kept bringing him back, even during the COVID mess this past year brought us. It was for love of the game and love of the community.
I can go on and on about the memories I have with Ralph. If I did, then this article would need its own section. Ralph, you will be missed by everyone. Never was a bad word said about you. Let it be known that Ralph is the reason we write Weir High in our articles.
You always shared everybody’s story. Now is the time for them to share yours.
Andrew Grimm, staff writer: “Learning of Ralph’s passing was undoubtedly one of the saddest moments I’ve experienced in a long time. One thing I will never forget about Ralph is his friendly smile and warm demeanor. On my first day at the Herald-Star, I walked into a staff meeting for the Gridiron magazine, and that smile was one of the first things I noticed and a memory that has lasted since. I will forever miss leaning against the fence at Bowman Field to copy his lineup card and exchanging pleasantries, shooting the breeze before a big Weir High basketball game by his seat at the scorer’s table at the Carl Hamill Fieldhouse and his always day-brightening greetings when answering the phone. As a young reporter, his example of friendliness and honesty are qualities I will carry with me. Rest in peace, my outstanding friend. My prayers are with his family and friends.”
Ed Looman, sports correspondent: “As you go through life, you have the opportunity to cross paths with folks of all shapes and sizes. I’ve always felt blessed to have crossed paths with Ralph Cox, who I always considered a first-class individual. I first met Ralph back in the day when I had the opportunity to serve as sports editor of The Weirton Daily Times. Ralph made his bones at the Daily Times as a sports reporter before moving on to Weirton Steel, where he put together an outstanding publication known as The Bulletin. Ralph had an excellent and unique writing style. I will miss our conversations and definitely will miss reading his stories. The Ohio Valley sports scene has lost another key component, and Ralph definitely will be missed.”
Aaron Petchal, sports correspondent: “Ralph cared about his job. He cared about the kids and the teams he was covering. He was a great writer. I always enjoyed reading his work. He always was willing to answer a question or to help you out if you needed something. Ralph liked to laugh and have a good time. You couldn’t be in a bad mood when he was around. He was the type of person you liked to be around. In this job, you meet a lot of people, and Ralph was one of the best I have ever met. It is not going to be the same without him. The area not only lost a great reporter, but it also lost an even better person.”
Phil Rujak, a little bit of everything: “I knew Ralph for many, many years, starting with the Weirton Steel days. There were many avenues our paths have crossed. It’s just a sad day for us in Weirton to see him go. He was such an icon and was so good to everybody. He was so fair and nice to everybody. His heart was in the story. It wasn’t something he just did. Touched a lot of peoples’ lives. He truly will be sorely missed. He was one of the best. He cared about what he did. When he came to interview you, he cared and was passionate about it. We’re all better off because Ralph Cox crossed our paths.”
Mike Granato, former Weir basketball coach: “I’ve known Ralph for 40 years. The biggest compliment I can give him is he simply was a guy who was never confrontational, whether it was as an umpire or a reporter. He always looked for the positive in things. He always knew when to give me an extra couple of minutes to calm down after a basketball game. Our interviews and conversations were first and foremost about family and the game second. When you look at the guy as a father, husband, employee for the Weirton Steel, working at his church, the guy didn’t sit still. With all the people he came across, I don’t think I ever heard a bad word about him. I think he falls in the category of a life well-lived. He loved his kids and grandkids. He was just an active guy. He just had that even-killed, responsible feel in no matter what he did. The entire community of Weirton just lost a great guy.”
Tony Filberto, former Weir and Oak Glen football coach: “Ralph was one of my favorite people. We had a common respect for each other. He will truly be missed by me and many others. A good sports writer and a better person.”
Jerry Everly, Oak Glen boys basketball coach: “He was a great guy. He’d come in and calm you down after a loss with a joke or a positive stat from a game even if you struggled. He would bring you back to reality. I always joked with him that it must be a big game if he was here. He was a lifer. I’m really going to miss him.”
Rick Stead, Weir girls basketball coach: “Ralph was a good, honest person. He was a pleasure to talk to courtside and knew a lot about basketball. He did a great job reporting on sports. I always was pleased with how well he treated us and the kids. It’s a shame that he passed. It’s a loss for the city and the sports community.”
George Vargo, Madonna boys basketball coach: “Ralph was one of the good guys. He was always fair in his reporting of our games and always understanding when we are frustrated after a tough loss. The Madonna family will miss Ralph greatly. We have lost a quality reporter and an even better person.”
Eric Meek, former Weir and Toronto football coach: “I got to know him when I was the head coach at Weir High. We talked every week, sometimes multiple times a week. He was a true professional and very positive. Even after I left Weir in 2008, he still covered some games at Toronto. I would see him in the offseason at other events. Last few years, I sat next to him in the press box, maybe just a couple of seats down. We always made small talk and reminisced about the old days. This news is very sad. I give his family my deepest condolences.”
Chris Conti, Madonna softball coach: “I’ve known him since he was a softball umpire. He was a great guy and will be missed dearly. He did a great job of writing. He was a down-to-earth, polite man. He did great things for me. He was just a great human being.”
Sean Blumette, Brooke athletic director: “Ralph was one of the guys I met when I came here in 2012. He always was willing to sit and talk, even if he wasn’t reporting. He would take the time with you before or after the interview to connect and learn more about you. He was always happy to see you. He never wanted to impose, but never short-changed you, either. I’ll miss the conversations the most. He brought so much experience and love for high school sports.”
West Virginia-Ohio Softball Umpires Board: “The West Virginia-Ohio Softball Umpires Board expresses our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Ralph Cox. Mr. Cox was a 20-year member on our board serving in various capacities as secretary, treasurer and assigner. Ralph also umpired state, regional, sectional and OVAC softball games. He was a great friend to area sports through officiating and his newspaper articles.”
Michael Arlia, Madonna athletic director: “I will always remember Ralph entering our gym or stadium, stopping and talking to all of the ticket takers, 50/50 people, program sellers and he would seek me out and notify me that he was in the house to report on our Blue Dons! He did that with a smile. He not only reported, he also taught the athletes. What a great gift! The Madonna family will miss Mr. Ralph Cox.
Rodney Boniti, former Madonna girls basketball coach: “Mr. Cox was a highly regarded sports writer and enthusiast of sports. I can recall numerous postgame interviews and whether you were in the winning locker room or the losing, he always showed you respect, patience and professionalism. He always wrote positive newspaper clips that made the young athletes feel good. My fondest memory may have come when he congratulated us in 2019 in the middle of our postseason run by simply saying, ‘You are the last team in the panhandle playing, congratulations and keep it going’. That showed me that whether you were wearing red and black or silver and blue, Mr. Cox was a fan first and foremost.”
Jim DiCarlo, Brooke softball coach: “Ralph was a gentleman, very professional and a very nice person. He’ll surely be missed.”
Ted Arneault, Oak Glen football coach: “He was very interested in the program. Always like to talk before and after the interviews. very professional and genuine.”
John Leary, Weir softball and assistant football coach: “The thing about Ralph is that he always was fair and positive, no matter if you were struggling or doing well. A joy to be able to work with. He’s definitely going to be missed.”
Don Ogden, Catholic Central, former Madonna boys basketball coach: “Ralph always was pleasant. He knew your team when he interviewed you. He always tried to take a positive angle in his stories and always was fair. His questions were really appropriate and relatable. We had good conversations about things in general that weren’t a part of the interview. He was interested in all aspects of the kids and what they were doing. I always appreciated him and his articles.”
Tom Taylor, Weir wrestling coach: “Ralph was a fantastic person. I knew him from my time as a head football coach, then personally through his church and life. They don’t come any better than Ralph.”
Brian Perkins, Toronto baseball coach: “We at Toronto baseball are going to greatly miss Ralph being around the ball field. He was a consummate professional. You could sit and chat with him about anything. He was very personable.”
Sean Tucker, Toronto boys basketball coach: “He was just an outstanding gentlemen. He loved his job, was extremely passionate about his job and thorough. He did a great job reporting a lot of good news for many kids in the valley. His smile is something I’ll always remember. He always had a big smile on his face.”
Quincy Wilson, former Weir and WVU football standout: “I always looked forward to reading his articles in the newspaper. I remember when I would walk to the bus and through the crowd, I noticed he always had his notepad. I hate to hear this. He was always great to me. He helped me get some notoriety. With him interviewing me, it was a nice little taste of (working with the media) before I got to West Virginia.”
Mike Mathison, former sports editor: “Ralph was a kind, gentle soul. In the 12 years I was privileged to call him a friend, I never once saw him get upset, lose his temper or get irritated. I’m sure it happened, but I never saw it. Ralph knew everybody, and everybody knew Ralph. I never heard anyone say a cross word about him. God received a wonderful man in heaven.”
Fred Younce, former sports writer: “Ralph was one of the kindest, friendliest people I met during my time at the HSDT. The area, especially the local athletes, lost an amazing man.”
Joe Dunlevy, Indian Creek athletic director: “I thought the world of the guy. I always saw him when we went to play in Weirton. He always was positive and did a great job. He was just a nice guy to talk to.”
Rusty Hodgkiss, Toronto girls basketball coach: “I never met a nicer guy. I never met anyone who had a bad word to say about him. He always had a smile on his face. I have missed him and will miss him more now. He always treated us right. He was a friend to the coaches and players.”
Mike Haney, Steubenville boys basketball coach: “He always covered us when we were at Weir. He was a great writer, a sincere and friendly guy.”
Kim North, sports writer: “I met Ralph when I came to Weirton in 1983. If there was ever a Mr. Red Rider, Ralph was it. He knew and cared more about Weir High athletics than anyone I crossed paths with in my two tenures as sports editor of the Weirton Daily Times. He will be truly missed.”
Matthew Peaslee, former sports writer: “Men like Ralph Cox are the reason why I always wanted to be a sports writer. A good sports writer is a trusted source of information and a key voice of the community. That was Ralph Cox for many decades in Steubenville and Weirton. I had the pleasure of working with Ralph for four years, and I always looked forward to covering games together. He was a true throwback to the golden age of print journalism, and I became a better journalist for knowing him.”
(Petchal contributed to this story.)