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coxphoto.JPGAfter Republican Sen. Dave Cox died last year, one of his daughters found a list of accomplishments the 72-year-old lawmaker still wanted to achieve. One item left unchecked was being honored by his alma mater, University of San Diego.

That wish became a reality on Wednesday, as family, former staff and colleagues gathered at the Capitol to unveil a portrait of Cox commissioned by the university.

"This is really terrific," his wife Maggie Cox said during a small ceremony on the Senate floor today. "He loved USD, he loved the Senate. This is perfect."

The rendering of Cox by artist Greg Shed, which was based on a photograph taken by Jay Mather for the Sacramento Bee, was commissioned to accompany an article honoring the 1961 alumnus in the university magazine. The portrait will now hang in the members' coffee lounge off the Senate floor, which was renamed Cox's Club House last fall in memory of the lawmaker.

Tom Cleary, USD director of community and government relations, said the university offered to share the portrait to hang in the lounge so that "in a way (Cox) is continuing to serve" with current and future elected officials.

"It was just an ideal photo of Dave, and we think the artist caught his warmth and humility and humor," Cleary said.

The Fair Oaks Republican, who was known for his punctuality, could often be found sipping coffee and catching up with colleagues in the lounge well before morning sessions were set to begin. Senate GOP leader Bob Dutton, who called Cox a role model, assured Maggie Cox that her husband would opt for "healthy" cereal over treats from the nearby trays of cookies and muffins, during those early morning chats. She found that claim hard to believe.

"He would come home and I would say, 'What did you have for lunch, something good for you?' -- 'Three ice cream bars,' he would say!" she said, drawing laughter from the crowd.

"OK, breakfast-wise he was always healthy then, I can't explain what happened after that," Dutton responded with a smile.

Maggie Cox was joined by daughters Cathleen and Sarah and more than a dozen former staff members and legislative colleagues from both sides of the aisle. Lawmakers in attendance included Dutton, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, former Assembly GOP leader Martin Garrick, Republican Sens. Tom Harman, Sharon Runner, Mimi Walters and Mark Wyland and Democratic Sens. Christine Kehoe and Lois Wolk.

PHOTO CREDIT: Maggie Cox looks at a portrait of her late husband, former GOP Sen. Dave Cox, before a short ceremony on the Senate floor. Torey Van Oot, Sacramento Bee.


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