Michael Russell Cox


Michael Russell Cox, age 60, passed away July 21, 2021. The days leading up to his passing he was surrounded by family and friends. He passed peacefully in his home in Paola, KS.  

Mike was born June 8, 1961 to parents Levi and Patsy Cox. He was the oldest of 4 children. They were raised in Spring Hill, KS and Mike graduated from Spring Hill High School in 1979.  The family owned several acres and Mike enjoyed exploring their land. They had horses and Mike had his own horse named Sarge, he was a good, very well trained horse. Mike always cherished his memories of growing up in Spring Hill; even in his adult years he would proudly share with others the land he grew up on and stories of his childhood.  

Mike had fond memories of vacations and traveling with his family. He especially liked traveling to the coast and the Grand Canyon was also one of his favorite family trips. As a young child Mike developed a love for reading, he would read anything he could get his hands on and his passion for knowledge turned him into a lifelong learner. He was wise beyond his years, even in his looks. One could easily mistake his 8th grade picture for his senior picture, by the time he was 13 he had a full beard. 

As a kid, Mike played baseball and once he was old enough he switched to football. He played football for the Spring Hill Chiefs in Middle School and the Spring Hill Broncos in High School. He was very proud of earning a patch on his lettermen’s jacket for the season his team went 11-0; undefeated and unscored on!  

Mike was young when he entered the workforce. His father, Levi owned several local gas stations and Mike enjoyed working alongside him. He continued working for his dad as an adult and later went onto work at GerWin vans. Then, Mike began his career at Leslie Paper Company in Olathe, KS. He worked at Leslie for about 25 years. He was a hard worker and took great pride in his work. During his time at Leslie he not only advanced in his position with the company but also made great, lifelong friends.  

Mike was joined in marriage to Dianna Johnson on July 11, 1987. They were married in Hillsdale, KS. The union in marriage created an instant family, Mike became a stepfather to Tessa VanTrece and Angie Clarkson. The newlyweds had 1 night of their honeymoon alone and then it was a family vacation. From that moment on family was a priority in Mike’s life. In 1989 the family, including Mike’s youngest brother Bill, moved from Gardner, KS to their forever home in Paola, KS. The home was built in 1902, and despite the conditions at the time of purchase, Mike fell in love with it. Family and friends spent weekends and countless hours restoring and updating the home.  

 In 1992 Mike and Dianna welcomed their first child and only son, Wyatt Cox.  Mike became a grandpa for the first in 1993 when his grandson Jaylen VanTrece was born. Then in 1995, the couple had their baby girl Cassie Cox and she instantly had her Daddy wrapped around her little finger. In 2001, grandson Blake Pennock was born and in 2005, granddaughter Berlynn Pennock was born. Mike was looking forward to the birth of his 2nd granddaughter Alora Cox, whose due date is October 2021.  

Mike loved being with his family. Family vacations were important to him and he enjoyed taking his family to St. Louis, Branson, Colorado, and Florida. Another favorite was taking his family to the Renaissance Festival in Kansas City. Mike enjoyed camping trips and of course road trips on his Harley. There were a lot of family memories made at their home with parties turned into campouts, bonfires, barbeques, shooting practice, and pool parties. He also loved attending car shows, especially the Ottawa Car Show, which became an annual tradition for Mike and all the men in his family.  

He was his kids and his grandkids biggest fan; there was rarely an event he missed. Whether it was cheer, dance, football, baseball, powerlifting, wrestling, music programs, school plays, or graduations; Mike was there to proudly support his family.  

In addition to spending time with his family, Mike loved reading, he also enjoyed shows about history, documentaries, and western movies. Mike’s all-time favorite movie and soundtrack was Easy Rider – he was a Harley man. His sophomore year of high school he got his 1st Harley, a Chopper and he owned 6 Harleys in his lifetime. He even made his own leather saddle bags for his Harley. Mike loved old cars, he especially loved restoring old cars. He was in the process of restoring a Rat Rod and his Rat Rod project will proudly be continued on by his family.  

Mike had a passion for drawing, design, and architecture. He loved learning, making things and working with his hands; wood working and leather craft were just a couple of his hobbies or self-taught skills. He was very talented in every hobby he pursued.  Mike was the Trivial Pursuit champion of the family, everyone’s 1st pick as their “phone a friend” for Who Wants to be a Millionaire, he was our family’s version of Google; who needs Google when you can ask Mike? In our family’s eyes, he knew it all and he could do it all and he made it all look effortless; he was the epitome of the man of the family.  

Mike is survived by his wife, Dianna Cox and fur baby Paisley Cox of the home. His children; Tessa VanTrece of Kansas City, MO, Angie/Bret Pennock of Paola, KS, Wyatt/Heather Cox of Garnett, KS, and Cassie Cox/Brian Lofing of Manhattan, KS.  His Grandchildren; Jaylen VanTrece, Blake Pennock, Berlynn Pennock, and the newest grandchild due in October 2021 – Alora Cox. His siblings; Allen/Tammie Cox of Osawatomie, KS and Bill/Heidi Cox of Gardner, KS. Many aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.  

Mike was preceded in death by his grandparents Levi and Viola Cox and Russell and Florene Vanderpool. His father Levi Cox, his mother Patsy Cox and his sister Sonia Cox.


Services will be held on Saturday, August 14th at First Presbyterian Church in Osawatomie, KS. Visitation will begin at 11:00 a.m. a funeral service will follow visitation at 12:00 p.m and a dinner will be held at the church for family and friends following the services. Mike will be laid to rest at Hillsdale Cemetery.

Memorial Contributions

Michael Cox Memorial Fund

Care of First Option Bank. P.O. Box B, Paola, KS 66071

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