Wilmette, Community

In Tribute: ‘Loved by everybody,’ RJ Fox will be remembered during service on Saturday, April 27

Family and friends will honor the life of RJ Fox this Saturday, April 27, in Winnetka.

RJ Fox, 18, who tragically died in early April in North Carolina, was a Wilmette native attending Christ School near Asheville. A memorial service, which will also stream live online, will begin at 2 p.m. at Winnetka Congregational Church, 725 Pine St., and a reception will follow from 3-5 p.m. at Westmoreland Country Club, 2601 Old Glenview Road, in Wilmette. A private ceremony will be held on May 4 at Christ School.

The local community has rallied around the Fox family since RJ Fox’s death. In multiple Wilmette neighborhoods, green ribbons tied around tree trunks wave in the breeze in honor of RJ Fox.

Organizers of the project are hoping to see as many trees as possible across Wilmette adorned with green ribbons ahead of RJ Fox’s memorial on Saturday.

Green ribbons throughout Wilmette pay tribute to RJ Fox and his family. | Photo Submitted

An obituary from his family says that RJ Fox is survived by his loving parents, Sarah and Bert Fox, and his dear brothers, Jack and Ben, of Wilmette; maternal grandparents Debbie and Doug Cosby of Salem, Illinois; paternal grandparents Diane and Robert Fox of Boone, North Carolina; Aunt Angela and Uncle Noah Cosby and cousins Pasca, Zoe, Calvin and Adrian of Denver; Aunt Rachel and Uncle Sean Leary and cousin Gracelyn of Wilmington, North Carolina; Aunt Sara and Uncle Kevin Fox and cousins Whitley and Sloane of Charlotte; Aunt Meghan Fox and Uncle Kevin Kinner of Morrisville, North Carolina; and maternal great-grandparents Roberta and Lindy Hosselton of Flora, Illinois.

The Fox family has established a fund at Christ School in RJ’s name to support scholarship and athletics. In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions be designated to the RJ Fox Memorial Fund. Donations can be made online or via check to Christ School, 500 Christ School Road, Arden, NC, 28704.

RJ Fox, of Wilmette, was a member of the lacrosse team at Christ School in North Carolina.

Robert (RJ) Fox was born on Nov. 6, 2005, to Bert Fox and Sarah Cosby Fox in Charlotte. The family moved to Wilmette in 2011. Wherever he was, RJ rooted for University of North Carolina athletics and the NFL’s Carolina Panthers.

He attended McKenzie Elementary, Highcrest Middle and Wilmette Junior High schools and then New Trier High School for a year. During those years, according to the family obituary, he played soccer with the Scottish Soccer Academy and “found his passion” with Team ONE Lacrosse. He was also a caddy at Skokie Country Club, honing his love for the game of golf.

With his family, RJ enjoyed numerous trips to Sea Island, Georgia, and visiting his grandparents in Salem, Illinois. Additionally, “the North Carolina mountains became a place of joy and peace for RJ,” who spent many summers at Camp Rockmont and in Boone, North Carolina, with his grandparents.

RJ enrolled at Christ School in 2021 and “absolutely flourished,” his family says. He played for the Greenie lacrosse team, was nominated for the Student and Residential Life Award in 2023, was an honor roll student and “was known for his willingness to help and tutor other students.”

Jim Goodrum was RJ’s advisor at Christ School. The two arrived at the institution at the same time three years ago. With Fox far away from home during the school year, Goodrum became somewhat of a parental figure, attending Fox’s lacrosse games, monitoring his grades, regularly checking in with him and more.

Goodrum said RJ became part of his family, getting to know his wife and children, who would seek out RJ when they were on campus.

“He’s one of the finest young men I ever have met,” Goodrum said. “I know he’s going to be a good example for my son to live up to be.”

He added, “He was focused, well liked among his peers and faculty and staff, quiet at times but with a great sense of humor, and he was very respected and loved by everybody. … He knew pretty much everybody, and everybody knew him. He was one who would bring all groups together. He was very inclusive in his interactions with everybody on campus.”

Goodrum called RJ “purposeful,” explaining that as a student-athlete RJ was aware of his standing academically and athletically and worked hard in areas he felt needed improvement.

As an example, Goodrum said that while spending two years on the junior varsity lacrosse team, RJ trained and was showing off the progress on varsity this season.

“He got a shot to be on the varsity team and RJ really stood out and took a lot of people by surprise with how hard he worked and improved,” Goodrum said.

Goodrum said RJ had a knack with numbers and he was excitedly curious where the talent would take him. Fox participated in multiple college visits with groups from Christ School, exploring what his next steps may be.

RJ Fox died on April 6. His memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. at Winnetka Congregational Church, 725 Pine St. in Winnetka and also will be streamed live online.

“RJ’s ever-present smile lit up the lives of many,” the family wrote. “Quick to be a friend to all, he will be remembered for that smile, his easy-going demeanor, his desire to always help others and his awesome hair! He leaves behind a legacy of love and kindness, and he will be greatly missed in all the days to come.”

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joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

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