Brass master . . . Ray Cox was former principal cornet of Timaru Municipal Brass. PHOTO: COURIER FILES


Talented brass player, typical Englishman and father-of-six Raymond Cox died last month in Timaru, just 26 days after the death of his wife, Marie. He was 91.

He was a conductor of the Timaru Brass Band from 1973-75, and continued to play for the band as principal cornet, tutored younger band members and was a strong supporter after his retirement.

Mr Cox played the Last Post at Anzac Day services for many years. His final Last Post was at Mountainview Village two years ago.

Mr Cox was born in Royston, Yorkshire, and went to the village primary school, where he first met his future wife, Marie.

He began playing cornet in the Salvation Army Band at the age of 8.

He left school aged 15 and pursued various trades, including window cleaning, mining and being an electrician.

Mr Cox and his wife-to-be Marie began dating after they caught each other’s eye when he was a stoker on a train line to Normanton – the train she rode to school.

He developed a great reputation as a cornet player for the New Moncton Colliery Band, before he applied to play for a championship band in Hawera, Taranaki.

He flew to New Zealand in February 1951, and was met off the plane in Auckland by All Black Fred Allen, radio host Winston McCarthy and Hawera musical director Louis Fox.

Mr Cox went on to win the national championship with Hawera Municipal Brass. Marie voyaged out to New Zealand, and they married in August 1952.

His family relocated multiple times because of his love of music Invercargill, Dunedin and finally Timaru in 1973 to become conductor of Timaru Municipal Brass.

He became involved with other musical organisations, including the drama league, big bands and the Diack Singers.

Mrs Cox was also heavily involved in fundraising for the brass band.

Timaru Brass fellow bandsman Kent Smith said Mr Cox was a quintessential English bandsman.

“Ray was very talented and obliging. He had high standards and everything he played was correct.

“He was just a typical English gentleman; very softly spoken. He would never say anything bad about anyone, and would always say if someone played well.”

Mr Cox’s strengths also lay in sports and he represented Taranaki and Southland in football and South Canterbury in bowls.

He was a member of the National Brass Band of New Zealand which toured Britain and Europe in 1962 and was named world champion band, and also in 1967 and 1980 when the band toured Canada and the United States.

Mr Cox’s daughter, Dianne Cox, said: “He was a British, New Zealand and world champion, but to us he was just Dad.”