6 ways Cox family helped shape Dayton area with philanthropy

Anne Cox Chambers helped spearhead the philanthropic spirit started by her father – former three-term Ohio Gov. James M. Cox — giving millions of dollars to entities and efforts in the Dayton area.

Chambers, the last surviving child of the 1920 Democratic presidential nominee and founder of Cox Enterprises, died Jan. 31 at the age of 100.

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Her life will be remembered for continuing the many civic and charitable works involving the Cox family that helped make the Dayton area thrive. Among the family’s efforts:


Here’s why we fly in and out of the James M. Cox Dayton International Airport: In the mid-1930s, local business and community leaders were concerned that the existing airport was unable to handle newer transcontinental aircraft, according to the airport’s web site, flydayton.com.

By then, James M. Cox stepped in to help lead a $65,000 fund-raising effort to allow the city of Dayton to buy the airport, raising money from businesses from as far away as Middletown, Piqua and Troy.

That paved the way for the airport to qualify for federal funding through the U.S. Works Progress Administration for much-needed airport improvements. And more than 15 years later, in 1952, the Dayton City Commission renamed the airport the James M. Cox-Dayton Municipal Airport, which became the James M. Cox Dayton International Airport in 1975.


In 1962, members of the Cox family donated the land south of Dayton that would become Cox Arboretum, along with a trust fund to help support it.

A decade later, the land and arboretum became part of the MetroParks park district. Cox Foundations have donated more than $2 million since that time for various projects related to the Arboretum, including the Barbara Cox Center for Sustainable Horticulture. The center is named after the late Barbara Cox, daughter of James M. Cox.


The James M. Cox Foundation in 2011 made a $1 million challenge grant to the RiverScape River Run project to remove the dangerous Monument Avenue low dam and create a much safer fast-water kayak and canoe recreation destination and other recreational opportunities along the Great Miami River.

Cox executive Alex Taylor, great-grandson of James M. Cox, committed Cox Media Group Ohio’s focus on resolving the low dam issue and led the company in its first participation at Clean Sweep of The Great Miami River.

Since then, Cox volunteers have removed nearly 10 tons of trash from riverbanks along the Great Miami River.


The Cox Foundation announced a $25,000 grant to the Dayton Children’s Hospital in 2011 to complete the renovation and expansion of the Soin Trauma and Emergency Center.

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In 2015, the foundation donated $250,000 to help fund the hospital’s patient-care tower expansion and renovation project at the Valley Street campus. The $153 million project is helping to transform care for children in the hospital’s 20-county service region, Dayton Children’s officials said.



A $1 million gift from the James M. Cox Foundation in 2017 helped Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum restore three historic structures.

The cemetery is working on a multi-phase, multi-million dollar capital campaign that will result in the complete restoration and preservation of the historic chapel, front gates and administration building.

The structures are 130 years old, and phase 1 represented an investment of $3.5 million.

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The 200-acre Woodland cemetery property, located in the southern part of Dayton, is home to 100,000 monuments and 3,000 trees, spread over rolling hills.

The cemetery, which is a National Historic District, is where James M. Cox is buried, as well as Col. Edward A. Deeds, Loren M. Berry, John H. Patterson, Charles F. Kettering and the Wright brothers.


The James M. Cox Foundation last year awarded the Omega Community Development Corp. a $50,000 grant for the construction of the Hope Center for Families.

The center will be a hub in the Dayton community, providing unique services and a bridge to community resources that empower low-income individuals and families The Hope Center pillars will focus on workplace development, health, and education.

The center will be located on the 30-acre Harvard Campus in Northwest Dayton. It will empower low-income individuals and families of greater Dayton to achieve and sustain self-sufficiency with the life skills, work skills and character needed to succeed. Visit the website to find out more.

The center’s lease partners will include Dayton Children’s Hospital, Miami Valley Urban League, Mini University and Sinclair Community College.