Paul Fox, right, and Pat Smith arrange parking for vendors and displays during the Monmouth Fair in July 2018. Kennebec Journal file photo by Andy Molloy

MONMOUTH — Paul Fox devoted more than six decades of his life to making Monmouth a better place to live.

The longtime member of the Monmouth Fire Department and Monmouth Fair organizer died Feb. 19 at the age of 84.

Born March 8, 1935, in Lovell, Fox worked as an auto mechanic at Coe’s Chevrolet, Bill Martin’s Chevrolet and Augusta Chevrolet. He was best known, however, as a member of the Monmouth Fire Department, where he served for 62 years, and a member of the Cochnewagon Agricultural Association, which organizes the Monmouth Fair, for 54 years.

Pat Smith, who has been part of the Monmouth Fire Department for 50 years and also served with the fair association, said Fox had “a unique way of guiding” people through situations when he was fire chief. Smith recalled the Ice Storm of 1998 when he patrolled with Fox and no one was sure what would happen next.

“You didn’t know what to expect trying to go down the road,” he said. “He did a super job guiding the whole department.”

Smith also remembered Fox’s sense of fashion.

“I remember his floppy hat … and a cigarette in his mouth all the time,” Smith said. “He never wore a visor hat.”

Fox joined the Monmouth Fire Department in 1958 and was appointed assistant chief in 1975, then chief in 1995, a position he heldd for nine years. Monmouth fire Chief Dan Roy said Fox helped modernize the department in the 1970s and 1980s, buying new fire trucks while operating the department on a shoestring budget.

Though his role in the department was reduced over the last 20 years, Roy said, Fox still helped with repairs around the station, and with permitting and fire warden duties. Roy also said Fox volunteered to cut brush on the sides of roads, which he did with his antique tractor.

Conveying his sickle bar with a 1948 Farmall Cub tractor, Paul Fox clips grass growing along roads in Monmouth in 2009. Fox, Monmouth’s retired fire chief, kept more than 46 miles of road clear for a dozen years with his antique tractors. Kennebec Journal file photo by Andy Molloy

While Fox was fire chief at the Monmouth Fire Department, he had two brothers who were also fire chiefs, Larry at the Lovell Fire Department, and Albert at the East Stoneham Fire Department. Three other brothers, Peter, Steve and Fred, served as assistant fire chiefs. Paul Fox’s son Kevin has retired from the Monmouth Fire Department, while Paul’s son Curtis Fox and grandson, Christoph, are active members.

A member of the department for 15 years, Roy described Paul Fox and former fire chief Laurie Folsom, who owned an automotive garage together in Monmouth, as “the dynamic duo in town.”

“Any time the tone dropped, they were almost sure to be making (it to) every fire call,” he said. “When people think of the department back then, it was them. We always had a roster of 30-50 people, but they were the pillar of the department and the community back then.”

Fox was also a longtime member of the Cochnewagon Agricultural Association, which organizes the Monmouth Fair. A Kennebec Journal report from 2012 said he had organized the fair since 1966. In 2012, in a story previewing the fair, Fox said the preparation was a lot of work and that the organizers “all look forward to it and are damn glad when it’s over.” Six years later, he was interviewed again for another preview of the event and said he was thinking about retiring “pretty damn quick.”

Association President Phil Butterfield said Fox filled just about every position an organizer could hold. Moreover, Butterfield said, he traveled to other fairs and tracked state legislation that could affect the event to make sure the Monmouth Fair was offering as much as it could.

“He knew everybody and he was willing to do virtually everything that needed to be done,” Butterfield said. “He was just an integral part of it.”

Dan Niles, a member the Monmouth Fire Department for more than 50 years, said Fox would always do what is “right and correct.”

“He was always very fair with everyone,” Niles said. “He always gave everybody a chance.”

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