Sweetwater, TX—Last week brought more sad news as the jewelry industry said goodbye to Ronnie Cox (left), a retired jeweler and former board member of the American Gem Society, and Fred Ward, a renowned gem photographer whose work was best known in National Geographic magazine.
Cox, 73, died July 19. He had been the owner of Cox Jewelers, a third-generation store founded by his grandfather in 1886. Cox took over in 1965 after earning his BA in economics from Rice University in Houston. He closed the store in 2012.
Cox was active in both the industry and his own community. A board member of AGS and AGS Laboratories, he was honored with the group’s prestigious Robert M. Shipley Award in 2011. Cox was committed to his community as well as the industry. He sat on the boards of several local banks and charitable foundations, as well as serving as president of the Sweetwater Chamber of Commerce and working actively for economic development in the area.
Cox is survived by his wife, Sally, daughter Lisa Cox Sanders (Todd), son Jason, and two grandsons, Brandon and Chase Sanders. Memorial donations may be made to the American Cancer Society or the American Heart Association.
Fred Ward, a legendary news and gemological photographer and author of nine gem books, died July 19 at age 81. The cause was Alzheimer’s disease.
Ward first became interested in photography as a teenager, and parlayed that into a lifelong career and renown as a photographer for Time, Newsweek, Life, and National Geographic, on whose behalf he visited 130 countries around the world.
Some of his news images became iconic, including a rare color shot of the Beatles’ first U.S. concert in Washington, DC. He was renowned for images that documented the civil rights activism of the 1960s, capturing both Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy in 1968 prior to their assassinations. He was one of the rare Americans to enter Cuba in the 1970s and captured images of that country, and was granted equally rare access to the White House in the early days of Gerald R. Ford’s presidency after the resignation of Richard M. Nixon. Those photographs became Portrait Of A President, written with Hugh Sidey.
Fred Ward (image: Amazon.com)
But Ward’s passion for gemstones grew into a photographic specialty, and he and his wife Charlotte authored nine books on gems, including diamonds, emeralds, and more. Ward eventually earned a graduate gemologist’s degree.