Remembering Peter Charles Cox – 1943 – 2022

Peter Cox signing his book
Peter Cox with award from the Federation of Australian Historical Societies
Peter Cox (right) being presented with his Award from the Federation of Australian Historical Societies (PHOTO: Lorraine Wootton).
Peter Cox signing his book
Peter signing his Lefroy – The Forgotten Gold Town book (PHOTO: Jennie Timmins).

Peter Charles Cox passed away suddenly, but peace­fully at his home in George Town on 5 October 2022. He will be remembered with fondness and respect by all who knew him, as a man devoted to his family, his church and community, an educator, historian, ac­tivist and true gentleman.

He grew up in Battery Point, but after univer­sity taught in schools in the south and NW before coming to George Town with his family in the 1970s. He was Principal of Scottsdale High School in 1996-7 before returning for his final year as Principal of George Town High before retirement.

From his early days in George Town Peter served on numerous committees, ranging from fundraising for the local Swimming Pool, Semaphore Resto­ration projects, commem­orative events and festivals. He was an extremely capa­ble and diplomatic chair­man and negotiator who valued everyone’s contri­bution and was able to sum up a situation or topic, deal with it and avoid conflict.

As an active Rotarian for more than 30 years, Peter volunteered on many proj­ects, served as President of the George Town Club twice and received a Paul Harris Award, for service to Rotary.
He was a member of numerous historical or­ganisations and with his wide knowledge of history, geography, geology and more, plus his excellent ora­tory skills, was sought after as a credible speaker on a variety of occasions and topics and always generous­ly shared his knowledge.

He was widely recognised as ‘the authority’ on the history of George Town, and never missed an oppor­tunity to promote George Town in a positive light. He was instrumental in having both George Town and Low Head designated as “historic towns” for tourism purposes which procured the appropriate brown and white heritage signage lead­ing up to the town.

From the early days of the George Town & District Historical Society, Peter had a leadership role, often representing the Society and chairing commemo­rative committees such as the Bicentenary of Bass’ & Flinders’ circumnav­igation of Van Diemen’s Land, the Centenary of Federation, Bicentenary of George Town. It was Peter who organised the whole month’s itinerary of almost daily events stretching from Adventure Bay to Low Head following Govr Lachlan Macquarie’s 1811 visit, cul­minating in George Town’s 200th Birthday Party with the Governor present.

He was a regular speak­er at monthly meetings and chief organiser of 12 biennial conferences and most excursions. Peter was newsletter editor for many years, and either wrote or contributed to many society publications. He chaired the “Way Back When …” committee from its incep­tion in 2003, wrote many key articles for this long running Examiner series and continued until the book was published in 2012. Peter’s major work “Lefroy – Tasmania’s Forgotten Gold Town” was published by the Society with all proceeds generously been assigned to it.

In 2017, Peter was award­ed one of only two merit awards in recognition of his significant contribution to the study and promotion of early Australian colo­nial history, especially in Tasmania by the Federation of Australian Historical Societies and his award was personally presented by the president, Associate Prof Don Garden OAM in March 2018.

Peter was also a found­ing member of the Low Head Pilot Station Support Group, after serving on the State Steering C’tee to en­sure that it was kept in State hands. As chairman until fairly recently, he raised the profile of the Pilot Station Museum and was made a Life Member in 2017-18 for his enormous contribution. In 2005 Peter Cox was named George Town’s Australia Day “Citizen of the Year” following his in­volvement with the month long Bicentenary of George Town commemorations in 2004, and in 2014 he was awarded the Community “Volunteer of the Year” Award for his untiring service to several organisa­tions.

Peter Cox was widely respected for his diplomacy and his communication, mediation and negotia­tion skills. He was kind, empathetic , generous and compassionate – someone who ‘practised what he preached’.

He will be sadly missed by his much loved daughter, Sally and son, David and their families, and his only brother, along with a multi­tude of friends and associ­ates in all his past activities and interests and the wider community in general. Valé Peter Cox.

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