David N. Cox knows work. The career he started at age 17, when he got a job after school as a Publix bag boy, is complete. Cox recently retired as the Kendall Mall Publix Store Manager after working his way up the hard way.
“A poor kid out of West Perrine with a little desire to have a piece of the American dream” is how he describes himself.
“It was only by the Grace of God that I found Publix, exceeded in a white world, had an extended career and (am) now able to retire in good health at sixty two years old. I can say that I am the first black store manager to retire from Publix in Miami-Dade County,” Cox said.
Now, he is studying Spanish with a tutor and wants to take piano lessons. He and his wife Katrinka, a flight attendant for 31 years, are planning a 120-day cruise halfway around the world. They live on two acres in Palmetto Bay and own five other properties around the country.
But as the second of seven children, Cox said he was “dirt poor” when he was a junior at Killian High School. He started working at Publix in 1968 and said he was one of the first blacks ever seen working in the store back then.
“I managed to fit in and excel,” he said. “I worked my way up through all levels of management until I reached store manager. I made the level of store manager at the Colonial Drive store in Perrine in 1989. I was one of three black store managers in the Miami Division.” The division, he said, is from Vero Beach to Key West so he rarely got to spend time then with the two other black managers.
“In every meeting I was the only black face there for a very long time,” he said. “I felt isolated, but I was totally convinced that Publix was a hidden secret that would lead to living life above the average person. With Publix giving every associate stock in the company, I was accurate in my thinking.”
He stayed for 45 years. Along the way he also earned a degrees in criminology from Miami Dade College and Florida International University.
“It took me about five and a half years since I was in night school after working all day,” Cox said. He said determination and hard work at Publix paid off in other unexpected ways.
“In 1968 I was embarrassed to have a conversation with anyone, and today, forty-five years later I long to have a talk with everyone,” he said.
For this Labor Day, Cox said, there will be a family reunion and a barbecue for about 85 people. His granddaughter will be there too.
She works at Publix.
STUDENTS HELP VETERANS
For the second year in a row, 15-year-old cousins Alain Carles and Viviana Giraldez were honored for their generous donation to veterans at the Miami Veterans Affairs Healthcare System.
Alain, a sophomore at Ransom Everglades High School, and Viviana, a sophomore at Immaculata LaSalle High School, raise money during their summers by holding car washes and fund-raising events at local businesses. This year they donated $1,526.
The two were among 75 high school students who spent the summer serving South Florida Veterans through the Summer Student program, a longstanding tradition at the Miami VA.
“The Miami VA hospital is truly a special place and we are honored to be, even if only in a small way, part of this great family,” Alain said as he presented the check. “We wanted to fundraise for the brave Veterans of Miami.”
The voluntary service program gives young adults from Broward and Miami-Dade County schools the chance to work alongside doctors, nurses and VA staff. To learn more check out www.miami.va.gov and click the Volunteer or Donate link.
Distinguished author and scholar Ulrich Merten will give an illustrated talk to members and guests of the South Florida Writers Association from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Sept. 7 at the Pinecrest Library, 5835 SW 111th St. Merten will discuss his book Forgotten Voices: The Expulsion of the Germans from Eastern Europe after World War II.
Born in Berlin, Germany, Merten grew up in the United States and was educated at universities in Zurich, Switzerland and Zaragoza, Spain and at Columbia University in New York. He worked for 38 years in Latin America and the Caribbean as a senior executive for Bank of America.
Refreshments will be provided. RSVP by Sept. 5 at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more about the writers’ group visit www.southfloridawritersassn.org. For more about Merten’s book visit www.forgottenvoices.net.
NEW ARCHAEOLOGY FINDS
Bob Carr of the Archaeological and Historical Conservancy will discuss new information about Ponce de Leon’s discovery of Florida at the next Bea Peskoe Lunchtime Lecture at noon, Sept. 9 in the third floor Pioneer Room of the 1st National Bank of South Florida at 1550 N. Krome Ave. in Homestead.
Carr is the highly respected former chief archaeologist for Miami Dade County, known for his work on the Miami Circle and at the Deering Estate. His topic, “Finding Florida: Ponce de Leon’s True Quest for Bimini and the Fountain of Youth,” will include new information found in archival material on the discovery of Florida by Ponce de Leon. There also will be discussion of how the Columbus family was cut out of the Florida charter.
The lecture is open and free to the public. Lunch is available for $10. Call 305-230-9185 before 2 p.m., Sept. 6 if you would like lunch before the lecture.
MEET YOUR NEIGHBORS
Pianist Rachel Currea, who was honored in 1994 with the Leon Ettinger Award for outstanding contributions in the field of music, will perform at the next luncheon of the New Neighbors group at 11 a.m., Sept. 11 at the Coral Gables Country Club, 997 N. Greenway Dr.
If you are interested in attending, call Rita Casagrande at 305-595-0213 to make a reservation. New Neighbors members take pride in helping neighbors meet and make new friends while having fun. This popular club was started in 1949.