FAIRMONT, W.Va. — Long-time Marion County Circuit Court Judge Fred L Fox II passed away Monday night, multiple sources confirmed Tuesday morning.
“Quite frankly, Judge Fox was absolutely an icon here in Marion County — the kind of person that was respected by everyone in the bar and, quite frankly, everyone in the county,” former Marion County Prosecuting Attorney and Circuit Court Judge Pat Wilson said Tuesday on Morgantown AM. “It would be hard for me to even find the words to even begin to describe him.”
Fox, who retired after 40 years with the judiciary on Nov. 30, 2010, was 79 years old. He began his career as a judge with his first electoral victory in 1970, just after returning from military service in Vietnam.
“He was an academic and a wonderful jurist,” Wilson said. “I had the honor of practicing in front of him for several years. Quite frankly, there’s no one that I can even begin to say would be more fair and objective and knowledgeable than Judge Fox.”
Fox also spent a year serving on the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals after the late Justice William T. Brotherton Jr. became ill. He was appointed temporarily by Chief Justice Richard Neely in 1995.
“I believe that the entire Bar revered and respected Judge Fox,” Wilson said. “I absolutely was one of the people that had those feelings toward him. He served as an example. He served as a mentor. I just can’t begin to say how much I respected him.”
Born and raised in Sutton, West Virginia, Fox is a former Marine, serving in the United States Marine Corps from 1960 through 1963. Fox returned to active duty in 1968 and served 11 months in Vietnam. He received two Bronze Stars, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, and a Purple Heart.
“I kind of smile because, when I think of him, I see him driving his Wrangler Jeep around town and always smiling, always waving to people,” Pat Wilson said. “Just a great guy.”
Fox received his undergraduate degree from Davis & Elkins College before his first stint in the military. He received his law degree from West Virginia University.
Chief Justice Allen H. Loughry said the death of Judge Fox is an enormous loss to the court system and his community.
“He was an incredible judge, a strong leader in the judiciary, and an intelligent and kind man,” Loughry said. “He was for many years the most senior circuit judge in the state, and other judges often called on him for advice. Even after his retirement, he was mentor to many young judges. Our entire court family sincerely wishes his family the very best during this difficult time.”
Justice Margaret Workman said, “Fred Fox was an outstanding judge, and it was a pleasure to serve with him on the Supreme Court for one year. His fairness, intelligence and devotion to duty were top-notch. He loved his work, he loved the law, and he loved his family. He was a good friend to me and many others in the judiciary who enjoyed his sense of humor, his insight, and his graciousness. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and his many friends.”
Justice Robin Jean Davis said, “I thoroughly enjoyed working with him for the past 20 years. He was a wonderful judge and a wonderful person.”