Marilyn Melancon Cox, visual artist, activist and mother of six, passed away at the age of 82, of natural causes, on August 29, 2022 in an assisted living community in Durham, North Carolina.
Marilyn was born on March 12, 1940 in New Orleans, Louisiana to Abbe and Bonita Melancon. Raised in New Orleans, she attended Holy Name of Jesus High School. At 18 years old while attending Loyola University, she met the love of her life on Pontchartrain Beach in New Orleans. Six months later she married former State Senator James J. Cox of Lake Charles, by whom she is survived, and to whom she was married for 63 colorful years. Marilyn and Jim lovingly, and much to the amusement of others, referred to each other as Musky and Muskrat to the end.
Marilyn and James lived in Lake Charles after living in France then New Orleans the first two years of their marriage. She was adored by her six children including Christine Cox Reinauer (Rob Reinauer), Barney Cox (deceased), Laura Cox, David Cox, Emily Cox (Dr. Tim McMahon) and Paul Cox (Cristi Lee Cox) along with ten grandchildren; Claire Lebo, Camille Delgado, Taylor Filo, Shannon Filo, Quinten Cox and Liam Cox, Healey Joseph Cox McMahon and Marie Cox McMahon, Nathan Cox, Leah Cox and great grandchildren Emily Anne Filo, Cate Filo and Molly Filo. Marilyn is survived by her sister and best friend, Jeannine Maine. She had another sister, Darnell Lynn, who is deceased.
Affectionately known to family members and close friends as “Mimi,” Marilyn was a talented artist, activist, avid gardener and naturalist, as well as a fabulous cook and a successful art curator. After graduating from McNeese State University with a degree in Fine Arts, she created and owned a contemporary art gallery and frame shop, Galerie Melancon, on Sallier Street for many years where she worked to promote Louisiana artists. She herself created hundreds of her own pieces that depict distinctive eclectic qualities, focusing largely on the landscapes of Louisiana and New Mexico. This inspiration was derived from the incredible scenery of the cypress swamp where the family lived in Moss Bluff and of her experiences living also in Taos, New Mexico for over two decades. She was enamored with Taos where she felt a deep spiritual connection, especially to Mother Mountain.
Marilyn will be also remembered for passing on her love for tennis to her children and grandchildren as an active member of the Lake Charles Racquet Club. She is also known conversely for her role in starting one of the first chapters of the Louisiana League of Women Voters, a cause she fought for tirelessly. She was on the Board of Louisiana State Arts Council in Baton Rouge and The Louisiana Endowment for the Arts. She lobbied to allocate funding for the arts in schools and helped promote Louisiana arts and crafts through the Louisiana Crafts Guild. As a result of her ongoing dedication to the arts, she was honored by First Lady Hillary Clinton with an invitation to the White House.
A Memorial service in honor of Marilyn’s life will be held at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, 715 Kirkman Street, on Sunday, September 4, 2022 at 2:00 PM. Services will be officiated by longtime friend, Reverend Mitzi George. Johnson Funeral Home will direct services.
The family is asking in lieu of flowers that donations in Marilyn Cox’s honor be made to Abraham’s Tent, 2424 Fruge Street, Lake Charles, LA 70601, a local charity that helps the homeless, or the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, 938 Lafayette Street, Suite 300, New Orleans, LA 70113 which serves 64 parishes throughout Louisiana, or the Zigler Art Museum, 154 N. Main Street, Jennings, LA, 70546.