Elena Petrovna Cox (+2011)

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On September 26, on the Eve of the Feast Day of the Glorious Exaltation of the Holy and Life-Giving Cross, after a prolonged illness, Mrs. Elena Cox, a tireless co-laborer in the Vineyard of the Lord, was translated to the mansions of the righteous.

Volumes could and should be written about all the good she did for God, the Church and her fellow man. She was a shining example of what it means to dedicate oneself to Christ our God. Not only did she serve the Church by directing the choir for many years, she assisted with private services, singlehandedly baked prosphora, cleaned the church, fulfilled her duties as Secretary of the Parish Council, co-edited the Russian version of “Parish Life” and did many, many other things crucial to the development of our parish life. Any parish needs at least five people like Lyalya (as we affectionately called her by her Russian diminutive) to help out the clergy.

Mrs. Cox worked for many years at the United States Information Agency as editor of the Russian-language magazine “America Illustrated.” With their substantial pensions, she and her husband, Reader Leonid Cox, could have easily lived a very comfortable life in retirement. However, being self-centered and selfish was not in their nature. While they could see immense need around them, they refused to indulge in selfishness. The Coxes established the Benevolent Fund at St. John’s and were among its largest contributors. After her husband’s death Mrs. Cox continued to participate in the work of the Fund, to help the needy, and to continue the legacy of giving.

Here are a few short remembrances of Mrs. Cox, sent in to us by some of our parishioners:

"Lyalya portrayed what is very seldom seen in today’s sinful world – a walking and living saint! Every time I saw her in church I would make a special effort to come up to her. I would greet, hug and kiss her as if she was my own mother or grandmother. I always walked away with such a feeling of peace and comfort in my heart and soul. No matter what the situation was, Lyalya always put a smile on all of our faces. Personally, I always found solace in Lyalya – a haven for our salvation and an example for all of us to emulate. We were all blessed to have lived side-by-side such a Righteous and pious individual. Memory Eternal!"

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"Many of us remember (and witnessed) how on Pascha night, after the Midnight Vigil, while everyone was in the church hall celebrating and breaking the fast, Lyalya would be on her hands and knees scrubbing the wax off the floor of our cathedral."

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"Mrs. Cox died on the Feast of the Church of the Holy Sepluchre in Jerusalem. Her Patron Saint built that church and Mrs. Cox sustained St John’s with her tireless work for the church. She built this church according to her strength with her labors for the parish council, choir and blessed bread so it is fitting that she see the Feast of the Cross as did St Helena. ...and repose on the Feast of the Holy Cross of Our Savior which she both carried and her Patron Saint rediscovered."

* * *

"You don’t know what a beacon the Coxes were to me. Your remembrance of Elena made my whole day yesterday. It was my birthday and it felt like a blessing to know that such a righteous soul is now praying right at the throne for us. When I got the note, my husband was driving back to DC on I-270 from State College. I read him your email and said. ‘I will be late to teach class but this is worth being late for.’ We wept."

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"I so admired Elena. Her quiet devotion. That is pure Christian duty and love in the most profound way we read in the lives of the saints. Once I was concerned about having a panikhida for someone’s 40th day. Mrs. Cox said ‘don’t worry – I have them all written down. It is taken care of.’ May God grant me to be there for her memorial meal. Memory eternal."

* * *

"Many years ago, when I first came to St. John the Baptist, I kept wondering whether I was properly dressed, what icon is the best to stand next to, how many times to cross myself and when to bow. I tried to watch others to follow the ritual. Over the years, one person became the most memorable role model: a tiny woman in big glasses always dressed the same – a grey cardigan and a grey skirt. I close my eyes and I see her – she is standing quietly by the column in the dark, she is not doing anything special and only crosses herself twice at the Psalm line: “Lord, do not forsake me; do not be far from me, my God.” Thus, unknowingly, one person can teach another how to pray. Oftentimes, I think about her (this real nun in the world) and the prayer comes along: ‘Lord, do not forsake me; do not be far from me, my God.’"

* * *

"It is the sad news, but important in a human sense. I knew Lalya and I was deeply impressed by her, as was anyone who would meet her. She was a unique personality and influenced people not only in the Church to which she was devoted, but in a much larger space of her human and professional presence. I remember her at the America Illustrated office and also later visiting our Washington File office at the US Information Agency. Her human dignity, strong spirituality, high professional standards made her a living example of the great Russian cultural tradition. She was a hard-working guardian angel of purity and music of the Orthodox faith and Russian language. Her memory is enshrined in people’s hearts because she was among those who make humanity universal and possible."

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  • 4001 17th St. N.W.,
  • Washington, D.C., 20011

Phone  (202) 726-3000

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