Roland Louis Fox, a Homeland resident who cultivated Queen Elizabeth roses and made it a point to be the first usher to greet church members every Sunday, died of skin cancer Thursday at the Wesley Home. He was 94.
Mr. Fox worked 51 years for the News American, where he was national advertising manager for three decades. He later became vice president and assistant to the publisher for TV Channels magazine.
The Franklin High School graduate held the state's high school broad jump record in the 1920s and won the 100-yard dash championship three times. He was married for 41 years to the former Elsie Robertson, who died in 1974.
Mr. Fox was a member of Baltimore Country Club and a volunteer at the Union Memorial Hospital.
A short, balding man with dancing blue-gray eyes, a mischievous grin and a firm handshake, Mr. Fox was remembered by friends for always making sure he arrived first at Grace United Methodist Church to greet everyone. He kept up the tradition into his 90s until entering Wesley Home last year.
"He would always say, 'Look for the tall, dark and handsome man with the head full of black hair,' " a church friend, Sara Potter, said yesterday as she remembered how Fox kidded new church visitors.
What he lacked in stature, Mr. Fox made up for with his gregarious personality. He prided himself on growing roses and would spend most of the year in his yard tending the bushes.
Once the roses were cultivated, Mr. Fox would often clip them and bring them to the hospital, giving them to volunteers or the sick. He particularly enjoyed Queen Elizabeth roses -- pink flowers named after Queen Elizabeth II.
Despite making so many friends, Mr. Fox told few about his high school track-and-field exploits. But he made it a point to attend Franklin High School functions until recently.
Occasionally, Mr. Fox would bring out his medals to show nephews, family members said. "He was a modest man," said his daughter, Elizabeth Fox Dell of Annapolis. "He would only do it on special occasions."
Mr. Fox particularly liked warm autumns that would allow roses to linger in bloom past the first cold snap, Mrs. Dell said. She took one of the lingering roses to her father's bedside last week, watching the joy in his eyes at seeing a rose surviving into December.
"He would always be happy when he had one that stayed through Thanksgiving," Mrs. Dell said.
Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. today at Jenkins Funeral Home, 4905 York Road. Burial will be private. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the Union Memorial Hospital, Grace United Methodist Church or Wesley Home.
In addition to Mrs. Dell, he is survived by another daughter, Barbara Fox Propf; three grandchildren, Elizabeth Dell Ball, Roland Thomas Dell and Bruce Fox Dell; and four great-grandchildren.
Pub Date: 12/26/98