“Dena” was born in Colbert, Oklahoma, on April 1, 1919, the daughter of the late Arling Lyndon Cordell and the late Lela Hill Cordell. She touched the lives of thousands of public school and college students during her 47-year teaching career, which she began at the age of 18 in a one-room school near Colbert. She was an elementary teacher, principal, and basketball coach at Platter and taught English and speech at Colbert High before moving to Denison's Central Elementary School. In 1953, she became Denison Senior High School's speech teacher and drama and debate coach, where she and her students maintained an active schedule of drama productions and successful speech, drama and debate competitions.
She became elementary supervisor for Denison ISD in 1963, remaining in that capacity until 1969, when she joined the faculty of Southeastern Oklahoma State University at Durant, where she became a full professor and Head of the Elementary Education Department. During this period, she also served as an education columnist for The Denison Herald. She retired from teaching in 1984.
A lifelong learner, she graduated valedictorian of Colbert HS at the age of 15, subsequently earning a BS from SOSU, an MS from North Texas University, and an Ed.D from Texas A&M University, Commerce. She earned her last degree, a BS in criminal justice, from SOSU at the age of 65.
After retirement, she continued her long-standing interest in owning and racing quarter horses and participated in a wide variety of community activities and projects. She became active in Denison city politics, and was elected to the City Council, subsequently serving as Denison's Mayor Pro Tem. An avid golfer, she was a long-time board member and supporter of the Denison Country Club and an officer of the DCC Women's Golf Association. She was an Elder in Denison's First Presbyterian Church and delivered Meals on Wheels for many years.
She was married to Charles Edward McCoy from 1941 until his death in 1972. She was married to James B. Fox, Jr., from 1977 until his death in 1988.
She is also preceded in death by her brothers Arling L. and Sylvester B. Cordell and her sisters Loretta Cordell Phelps and Mabel Cordell Scott.
Survivors include daughters Charla and Melanie McCoy of Dallas, son Robert A. McCoy of Denison, and stepchildren Charles E. Beckelman of Denison and Tony Fox and Carolyn Fox Beckham of Houston.
Memorial services will be Wednesday, April 25, at 2 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church, 213 N. Burnett Ave., Denison. The Reverend James Hawthorne will officiate.
After the service, the family will join friends in celebrating Dena's life at the home of Robert and Barbara McCoy, 1499 FM 1310, Denison, TX.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the SPCA (PO Box 660412, Dallas TX 75266-0412); Heifer International (1 World Ave., Little Rock AR 72202); the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian (PO Box 96836, Washington DC 20090-6386), or Meals on Wheels (531 W. Chestnut St., Denison TX 75020).