Honoring the remarkable life and career of Dean Cox

Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) spoke on the Senate Floor to honor the life and career of Washington County Commissioner Dean Cox.

Mr. President, I rise today to honor and celebrate the outstanding legacy of my dear friend Dean Cox. His enduring commitment to public service over the course of his life and his consequential career are worthy of the highest praise.

Many Utahns knew Dean as an accomplished Washington County Commissioner, but those closest to him knew a loving friend, neighbor, dad, grandfather, and husband who devoted his life to helping others.

With Dean’s passing, Washington County has lost one of its finest public servants. Dean’s legacy reminds us that the most reliable path to success, in public and private life, is marked by an unwavering dedication to principle and compassion.

With people from across our state, we extend our deepest sympathy to his family and loved ones. Dean is a man we will very much miss.

Dean’s lifetime of public service in Washington County and across Southern Utah cements his reputation as an indispensable expert on a wide range of vital services for first responders, businesses, and State and local governments.

A true son of Southern Utah, Dean was raised on the family pasture by his veteran father and caring mother in St. George. Throughout his youth, Dean learned how to fix just about anything in his father’s mechanic shop, mastering his tradecraft in Bob’s Garage.

The course of his life would, however, change while attending Brigham Young University. There, he met the love of his life LaRene Leavitt, and the two would soon dedicate their lives to raising their four children at home in St. George.  

Dean and his brother decided to purchase Bob’s Garage and carry on the family tradition. Their shop, renamed Colorland Sales and Service, was not only a successful small business, but it allowed Dean an opportunity to pass along the skills he learned from his dad to his own children, too.

Dean’s career in public service began as a volunteer emergency responder in Washington County. As a stellar radio operator and licensed pilot since the age of 19, Dean’s emergency coordination efforts through major disaster responses and other trials earned him experience and admiration from the communities he protected.

Impressed by his years of excellent service, Washington County offered Dean the critical role of County Administrator, where he executed the policies set forth by the County Commission. When a seat on the commission became available, Dean was encouraged to join the race. His candidacy was backed by three decades of local knowledge, expertise, and popularity

Victorious, Dean then became the decision-maker. Without a doubt, the hallmark of Commissioner Cox’s legacy is his successful breakthrough in securing approval for the Northern Corridor project. Dean’s pragmatism and willingness to reach compromise was the key to resolving long-held disagreements between disparate parties. His efforts yielded a win for the transportation needs of the nation’s fastest growing state, and a win for the wildlife conservation of its most beautiful.

Last year, 80% of his constituents reelected Dean Cox to be their Commissioner. Despite this incredible achievement, illness would tragically force Dean to receive hospital care, including chemotherapy. True to character, Dean continued to serve while undergoing treatment.

He passed away surrounded by loved ones, and is survived by his loving family—his wife LaRene, his son Jeffrey, and Tanna, Matthew, Keira, and Camille; his daughter Elisa, Quinten, Ethan, Anna, and Audrey; his daughter Kristen, and Thomas, Kate, Jonas, and Hailey; his son Edward, and Karen, Emery, and Everett.

At every step of Dean’s remarkable career, his sweetheart LaRene stood by his side. Her love and support sustained him through decades of selfless public service, and now LaRene carries on his wonderful legacy. Our great state owes Dean and LaRene Cox a debt of gratitude for their friendship and kindness to all, and their indelible contributions to Southern Utah’s destiny.