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Jack Fox honored by city of airport work

Monday, October 22, 2012

Monett City Council members presented Jack Fox with a framed resolution honoring Fox's years of community service and his efforts in developing the city airport during the Oct. 19 city council meeting. Shown, from left, are: Commissioner Jerry Dierker, Fox, Mayor Jim Orr, and Commissioner Mike Brownsberger. Brownsberger had served as airport commissioner and traded those duties with Orr in exchange for responsibility over the Monett Municipal Golf Course. [Times Photo by Murray Bishoff]
Monett businessman and aviation enthusiast Jack Fox was honored for his years of work promoting the Monett Municipal Airport in a surprise presentation at the Oct. 19 Monett City Council meeting.

Fox, who rose in the business community as a vice president and later president of the Gillioz Bank and Tust Company, became the second commercial pilot for Jack Henry and Associates in the late 1970s, after the bank had sold to United Missouri Bank, now UMB.

A pilot in the Air Force, Fox carried an enthusiasm for aviation that became infectious. His efforts in promoting the development of what is now the Monett Municipal Airport, which became city property in 1981, were what Mayor Jim Orr sought to recognize.

Orr said the city would rename the runway and taxiway at the airport as Fox Field, at the same time an ordinance was introduced renaming the airport as the Monett Regional Airport. A sign bearing the field designation will be mounted on an archway over the gate leading into the runway.

The road leading off Highway 97 to the terminal building will be renamed as Stearman Lane, in honor of Fox's biplane, his aviation trademark.

A resolution outlining Fox's community service, from president of the Monett Jaycees to service on the Monet R-1 Board of Education and leadership on the Airport Board, was read and presented to Fox.

Orr, who had kept the presentation plans a secret, surprised Fox with the announcement. Honoring Fox had been planned for months. Orr had enlisted the assistance of Dr. Mark Costley and Brian Hunter, director of aviation for Jack Henry and Associates, in preparing the honor, in addition to Fox's wife, Mary Sue Fox.

Orr explored renaming the airport as the Monett Regional Airport/Fox Field and placing both names on the sign by the highway. He reported to an advisory committee that the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), which oversees airports in Missouri, did not want a more complicated name. There were no objections to adding a name to the field, as has been done in the case of Lambert Field at St. Louis International Airport.

Monett's airport already qualified for the "regional" airport designation under state definitions.

In announcing the honor, Orr said Fox "probably spearheaded the whole thing" in developing the airport. Fox quickly extended credit to others.

"Without Jack Henry having the confidence in turning a worn out drag strip into something we can use, we'd still be going to Aurora in the summer and Neosho in the winter," Fox said.

Fox also named Costley, Harold Schelin, Dayton Mackey, Gary Bass, their wives and others who helped the Airport Board cook and serve hamburgers at various outings at the airport. Their efforts were focused on introducing the public to what the airport had to offer.

"It wasn't a one-man show," Fox said. "It took everyone's help turning the community around from thinking about the airport as a negative to a positive.

"I've heard people come to town and say, 'What a beautiful park you have,' and never talk about the park not paying for itself," Fox said. "Turning the public's view around from saying, 'The Groh Airport [the current location of Monett High School] is all this town ever needs,' to what we have now is a great accomplishment. I appreciate this so much."

Orr called the development of the airport as "a partnership" between the city and the two major industrial users of the airport, Jack Henry and Associates and EFCO Corporation, now a Pella company.

"It's a model that could travel across the country," Orr added.

The city council also designated Sunday, Nov. 11, as Jack Fox Day. Dedication ceremonies for renaming the airport field are planned for the occasion.

The text of the Monett City Council's resolution honoring Jack Fox, presented at the Oct. 19 council meeting:

Whereas, Jack Fox graduated from Monett High School in 1951 and from the University of Missouri in 1955 with distinction as a member of the Air Force ROTC and a letter-winning member of the University of Missouri football team; and

Whereas, Jack served as an officer in the United States Air Force from 1956-58 at Barton Air Force Base, Greenville AFB, Perrison AFB and Moody AFB where he completed his duty as flight instructor on F86L's; and

Whereas, upon completion of his active military duty, he returned to Monett in 1959 and served as president and board member of the Gillioz Bank and Trust Company; and

Whereas, Jack has served in many leadership roles and been an active member of the Monett business community for over 50 years, including positions with the following organizations: member of the Monett Chamber of Commerce Board Of Directors; member of the Monett Board of Education; member of the board of the United Methodist Church; member of the Monett Municipal Airport Board; member of the Board of Directors of EFCO Corporation; member of the Board of Directors of First State Bank; president of the Monett Junior Chamber of Commerce; director of aviation for Jack Henry and Associates; member of the Board of Directors of the Monett Industrial Development Corporation; organizer of the Monett Mighty Mite football association; and in 2004 was the recipient of the Chamber of Commerce's Community Service Award;

Now, therefore, be it resolved by the City Council of Monett, meeting in regular session this 19th day of October, 2012, that Jack Fox be recognized and honored for his years of service to the City of Monett and specifically for the contributions he made in the development and expansion of the Monett airport; and

Be it further resolved that in appreciation for his contributions, the City of Monett shall dedicate the runway and taxiway at the airport as "Fox Field" and place a monument at the airport acknowledging the designation; prepare a wall of honor in the airport's terminal building displaying his many accomplishments; designate the entrance road to the airport at "Stearman Lane," and be declaring Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012, as "Jack Fox Day" with a ceremony in his honor at the airport.

/s/ James Orr, mayor; Jerry Dierker and Mike Brownsberger, commissioners.

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