The Monett City Council had declared the occasion as Jack Fox Day. A reception was held in Fox's honor at the main hangar for Jack Henry and Associates. Fox's Stearman biplane had been brought into the hangar.
Mayor Jim Orr served as master of ceremonies for the occasion. He introduced fellow city council member Jerry Dierker and City Administrator Dennis Pyle. Assisting in the project to honor Fox were Dr. Mark Costley and Brian Hunter, both of whom served with Fox on the Airport Advisory Committee, Dr. Ralph Scott and Howard Frazier, airport superintendent.
"The Monett airport is much more than a provider of safe and efficient transportation," Orr said. "It is a provider of jobs and millions of dollars of economic activity. The Monett airport is truly a regional airport, serving general aviation activities with a focus on serving business activities, including small jet and multi-engine aircraft.
"This type of airport serves a significant role in supporting the local and regional economies and connecting them to the state and national economies," Orr added.
Fox, an Air Force veteran and commercial pilot for Jack Henry and Associates, became the most visible figure promoting the development of the airport. He told Costley in 1985 that Jack Henry and he had a vision for what the airport could become. Representatives from the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) were invited to Monett to survey what locally looked like a simple resurfacing of the 2,400-foot strip.
The MoDOT official instead said the airport needed a new runway because of the hump in the terrain south of the hangars. After the new 3,000-foot runway was dedicated in June 1989, Costley recalled telling Fox that Monett now had an airport.
Costley said he hadn't again raised that question with Fox. He knew Fox had a greater vision, Other changes followed, such as EFCO getting a lease to build a new hangar in 1990 after EFCO founder Terry Fuldner said the company had to upgrade its facility or move its aircraft to Aurora.
Key to the public impression of the airport was the addition of a new terminal building in 1996. Costley said the terminal "is our front door," reflecting the face of the community running the airport.
Hunter spoke about the economic impact of the airport. A real airport, as Fox envisioned it, provides an open door to recreational and business travelers. The airport has today become a traffic hub for chartered air traffic, helicopters and a handful of companies. Hunter said he sees many out-of-state people in Monett who arrive through the airport.
"Monett's airport ranks ninth in economic output statewide," Hunter said. "Today the airport brings in $26 million in economic output. Per capita that's more than Lambert Field in St. Louis."
Fox told about the occasion when an executive visiting Jumping-Jacks Shoes chose to wait until after her two-hour flight rather than use the bathroom at the old terminal. The letter from Gerald McCaffrey at Jumping-Jacks describing that day was enough to make the point that a new terminal building was needed, even at city expense.
"Without Jack Henry, the vision and courage he had to land at the airport and put his billfold out, trying to do business here," said Fox. "His vision was so far beyond what anyone had."
A formal ribbon cutting, overseen by the Monett Chamber of Commerce, was held for Fox Field, the renaming of the airport grounds in Fox's honor. Signage designating Fox Field is still in the planning stages.
The resolution passed by the city council on Oct. 19 in Fox's honor was read by the mayor. Orr said the city council will act on the ordinance renaming the airport at the Monett Regional Airport at the Nov. 20 meeting.
T-shirts made for the occasion by Fox's grandson, Mike Wakefield, of Carl Junction, were given away at the event. Refreshments were also served.