Paul Fox, right, and Pat Smith arrange parking for vendors and displays during the Monmouth Fair on July 31, 2018. Kennebec Journal file photo by Andy Molloy

MONMOUTH — Paul Fox, a longtime member of the Monmouth Fire Department and an organizer of the Monmouth Fair, died last Wednesday. He was 84.

Born March 8, 1935, in Lovell, Fox worked as an auto mechanic at Coe’s Chevrolet, Bill Martin’s Chevrolet and Augusta Chevrolet. He was best known, however, as a member of the Monmouth Fire Department, where he served for 62 years, and a member of the Cochnewagon Agricultural Association, which organizes the Monmouth Fair, for 54 years.

Pat Smith, who has been part of the Monmouth Fire Department for 50 years and also served with the Cochnewagon Agricultural Association, said Fox had “a unique way of guiding” people through situations as the fire chief. Smith said he remembered the Ice Storm of 1998 when he patrolled town with Fox and everyone was uncertain of what may happen next.

“You didn’t know what to expect trying to go down the road,” he said. “He did a super job guiding the whole department.”

Smith also remembered Fox’s fashion, which took a back seat to his achievements in the community.”

“I remember his floppy hat … and a cigarette in his mouth all the time,” Smith said. “He never wore a visor hat.”

Fox joined the Monmouth Fire Department in 1958 before being promoted to assistant chief in 1975, then chief in 1995, a position he filled for nine years. Monmouth fire Chief Dan Roy said Fox helped modernize the department in the 1970s and 1980s, buying new fire trucks and helping to operate the department on a shoestring budget.

Though his role in the department was reduced in the last 20 years, Roy said, Fox still helped with repairs around the station, and with permitting and fire warden duties. Roy also said Paul Fox volunteered by cutting brush on the sides of roadways, which he did with his antique tractor.

Conveying his sickle bar with a 1948 Farmall Cub tractor, Paul Fox clips grass growing on the edges of roads in Monmouth on June 25, 2009. Fox, Monmouth’s retired fire chief, has been keeping more than 46 miles of road clear in the town for a dozen years with his antique tractors. Kennebec Journal file photo by Andy Molloy

The Fox family has a long history — and a promising future — in fire service. According to Paul Fox’s obituary, while he was fire chief at the Monmouth Fire Department, he had two brothers also serving as fire chiefs, Larry at the Lovell Fire Department, and Albert at E. Stoneham Fire Department. Three more of his brothers, Peter, Steve and Fred, served as assistant fire chiefs. Paul Fox’s son Kevin has retired from the Monmouth Fire Department, while Paul’s son Curtis Fox and grandson, Christoph, both are active members.

Roy said he was persuaded to pursue the fire chief position after conversations with Paul and Curtis, the latter of whom has served on the department himself for 47 years.

“It was something that was a little intimidating at the time, but through several talks, they encouraged me to go for it and I got it,” he said. “I’m chief today because of Paul Fox.”

A member of the department for 15 years, Roy described Paul Fox and former fire chief Laurie Folsom, who owned an automotive garage together in Monmouth, as “the dynamic duo in town.”

“Any time the tone dropped, they were almost sure to be making (it to) every fire call,” he said. “When people think of the department back then, it was them. We always had a roster of 30-50 people, but they were the pillar of the department and the community back then.”

Paul Fox was also a longtime member of the Cochnewagon Agricultural Association, which organizes the Monmouth Fair. A Kennebec Journal report from 2012 said he had organized the fair since 1966. In 2012, Fox was interviewed for a story previewing the Monmouth Fair, saying the preparation was a lot of work and that the organizers “all look forward to it and are damn glad when it’s over.” Six years later, he was interviewed again for another preview of the event, when he said he was thinking about retiring “pretty damn quick.”

Association President Phil Butterfield said Fox filled just about every position an organizer could hold. Moreover, Butterfield said he traveled to other fairs and tracked state legislation that may have affected the events, to make sure the Monmouth Fair was offering as much as it could.

“He knew everybody and he was willing to do virtually everything that needed to be done,” Butterfield said. “He was just an integral part of it.”

Monmouth Selectboard Chairperson Douglas Ludewig said Fox repaired some of his small engine equipment and provided important institutional knowledge of the town.

Dan Niles, a member the Monmouth Fire Department for more than 50 years, said Fox would always do what is “right and correct.”

“He was always very fair with everyone,” Niles said. “He always gave everybody a chance.”


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