BEALLSVILLE - The last family photograph of the Cox family was at their father's hospital bedside.
Less than a month earlier, Jeff Cox was diagnosed with melanoma, but it was discovered too late. He died March 17, 2013.
In December 2012, Jeff had been in a car accident. Many doctors were baffled when his back injury did not seem to be getting better. One Woodsfield doctor, Dr. Rajnish Gupta, realized it likely was cancer. The actual spot of skin cancer was never found.
Kaleb, 16; Kassie, 10; and Laurie Cox pose with one of the chemo care bags they plan to distribute to patients at the James Cancer Center in Columbus in memory of the late Jeff Cox.
Cox, 51, a Beallsville resident, served as pastor of East Sunsbury Baptist Church.
And until the day he died he continued to minister to the many friends and family who came to visit him at the James Cancer Center in Columbus, said Laurie Cox, his wife of 28 years.
To help ease the pain of the family's loss, Cox and her five children - Kassie, 10; Kaleb, 16; Kyle, 21; Kelsey, 23; and Katie, 26 - have been performing random acts of kindness - many times to total strangers.
Cox recalls one instance in particular when she felt the need to help others.
"One time it hit me rough. It was 10:30 at night and we had cantaloupe and watermelons that people had given us. We jumped into the car and passed them out to our neighbors down the road. They probably thought we were a little weird, but the kids thought it was fun. It was all neighbors we know," she said.
Cox said they also are continuing her husband's tradition of paying for the meals of soldiers they see when they are out to eat themselves. The price of the dinner never mattered - Jeff would take care of it, she said.
The family's latest endeavor is creating what they call chemo care bags, which they plan to pass out to patients at the James Cancer Center in a couple weeks. The bags contain items cancer patients can use during treatment, such as gasoline cards to help cover travel costs, tissues, crossword puzzles, lip balm, slipper socks, Bibles and more.
Cox also is including coupons for frosties from the nearby Wendy's because that was the only type of food her husband could handle during his treatment. And her younger children are coloring pictures to include with the bags, and the older children and Cox are writing notes of support.
"We want to honor his memory. This project is something he would have done. It's how he lived his life. I want to teach his children and instill that in them," she said.
Cox said the bags she is using are from the company Thirty-One that she also sells items from. She uses the commission from purchasing the bags for buying the items to fill the totes.
Those who would like to help can either sponsor a bag, donate items or donate money. For more information, call Cox at 740-926-1760 or at 740-310-4881.
"We hope to do 100 bags," she said. "We're using this to help us through the grieving process. We do things for other people when we're having a hard day, when things are getting rough emotionally."
Cox believes her husband's faith helped him deal with his diagnosis.
"It helped so much - he knew he was going to Heaven, I knew he was going to Heaven," Cox said. "The doctor that came to pronounce him dead ... he said before I perform a check on your husband, I have to tell you, you have all been the talk of the hospital. We were reading scriptures and singing. It wasn't the normal death-bed experience he had ever seen.
"The Thursday before he died - he died on Sunday - people came to see him. They were lined up outside in the hall. He would talk to them and encourage them - it was the most amazing thing I'd ever seen. ... Even his last breath he was still serving the Lord."
The Coxes moved to Monroe County in 2001 from Pennsylvania. Jeff Cox served as a full-time pastor at the church.
"We love this community. It's an amazing place to live. We hope to stay," she noted.