Alumni Spotlight

Rossalene Cox, '75

By: Michelle Goff
February 15, 2016

As is the case with most people, Rossalene Mullins Cox has experienced her share of ups and downs. She’s survived breast cancer and a copperhead bite, but she also won $63,535 in cash and prizes on “Wheel of Fortune.”

“For the most part, I have led a fortunate life with more good than bad,” reflects Cox.

Except for her time at the University of Pikeville, Cox, a graduate of Warfield High School, has spent most of that life in the Pilgrim community of Martin County. “I live within sight of where I grew up,” she says.

The daughter of the late Roscoe and Evealeene Mullins, Cox followed her older sister, Debra Marlene Mullins Copley, to the then-Pikeville College. A recipient of the presidential scholarship, Cox excelled both inside and outside the classroom.

Among other accomplishments, she served as editor of the yearbook staff and the college’s representative at the Mountain Laurel Festival and was elected secretary/treasurer of her senior class as well as homecoming queen. Graduating magna cum laude in 1975, she also received the art award that year.

“As an art major, I came to love my instructors, Janice Ford and Marguerite Weber,” Cox recalls. “Mrs. Ford and her husband, Bob, even attended my wedding. One of my most treasured photos is one of Mrs. Weber holding my oldest daughter when she was a baby. I stayed in touch with both of these remarkable women until they passed away.

“I have so many memories from my years at Pikeville College. I formed friendships there that still thrive today. Spending six weeks in Europe after my freshman year is definitely at the top of my good memories list.”

Of course, as Cox notes, life on campus was different in the 1970s than it is today.

“I lived in Condit Hall, rooming with my sister one year and with my dear friend, Janie Robinson Carter, for two years (my sister and I both graduated in three years thanks to attending summer school). There was no air conditioning in the dorm, only two telephones per floor, communal bathrooms, and one TV in the entire dorm (located in the common area).”

Cox adds, “The only rule I knowingly broke was using my electric popcorn popper in my room.”

After graduation, Cox began teaching fifth grade at Pigeon Roost School with a provisional teaching certificate. The next year, she moved to Sheldon Clark High School where she taught art for 30 years.

“I always wanted to be a teacher,” she explains. “A favorite aunt, Wilma Jean Moore, also a Pikeville College graduate, was an elementary teacher and teaching seemed like the best thing to me. I truly loved teaching and found it to be very fulfilling.  Hopefully, my students knew that I cared, that I not only wanted them to learn about and appreciate art but that I also wanted them to learn about and appreciate themselves.”

Cox, who earned her master’s degree and Rank 1 certification from Morehead State University, retired in 2006. Since that time, she has focused her time on her family, husband Gary Wayne Cox, daughters, Alison Tegan and Lauren Alyssa, and grandchildren, Joseph Knox Maynard, Rocco Charles Maynard, and Harper Grey Runyon. Her retirement has also allowed her to cultivate her passion for quilting.

“I am a third generation quilter,” Cox says. “My maternal grandmother, Callie Moore, sewed countless quilts on her treadle machine. Ma lived with us after my grandfather died and it was rare indeed that she didn’t have a quilt in the frame to hand quilt or tack. I was always delighted when she allowed me to cut the threads on her tacked quilts. My mom was an accomplished seamstress who sewed clothing for herself, my sisters, and my grandmother. She even made my wedding gown. She, too, quilted when I was a child, as time permitted. I began quilting because a friend and fellow teacher was making beautiful quilts. I joined her group, the Sew ‘n Sew quilters and soon persuaded my mother to join, too. Mommy embraced quilting and created many beautiful quilts. I plodded along, creating many UFOs (unfinished objects) and a few finished ones. I do love quilting. I love choosing the perfect fabrics for a quilt, I enjoy the camaraderie of my Thursday night quilt group, I love how delighted my family is with the quilts I have given them and I have such a sense of satisfaction in knowing that my left-handedness is carrying on what my left-handed grandmother did. I derive such a sense of peace and satisfaction when I am quilting, unless I am muttering as I rip out misplaced blocks.”

Cox is a member of the Heirloom Quilt Society and the Wool Group. McCall’s Quick Quilt magazine recently published a photo of her and her grandson, Rocco, posing with a quilt she made for him. Cox’s other claim to fame is her appearance on “Wheel of Fortune.”

“I have always been a huge fan of ‘Wheel of Fortune,’” Cox says. “When I learned that the Wheelmobile was coming to the Mardi Gras Casino in Crosslanes, W.Va., (not too far from home) in the spring of 2012, a friend and I decided to go and see if we could get on the show.”

After successfully navigating two auditions, Cox received word she had been selected for the show.

“My family and I flew to California in October 2012 for my taping. Five shows were taped that day, mine was number four. I was the oldest contestant there that day and I was the biggest winner.”

Her winnings included two cars, one of which she sold to a car dealership.

“My show aired in January of 2013. My family had a viewing party at Main Street Cinemas in Inez, complete with a revolving ‘Wheel of Fortune” cake,” she says. “We hadn’t told anyone the outcome (except my terminally ill mother) and it was delightfully suspenseful. I drive the Ford Edge I won. My license plate reads WON 1T.”

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