Q&A with Longtime Comet Jim Fox

Anna Kinasewitz | Staff Writer

Jim Fox is a Mason man through and through.

A comet from Kindergarten through 12th grade, Fox graduated 50 years ago. He then went on to The Ohio State University before moving back to Mason, where he served on Mason City Council for nine years. Fox, with his wife, raised their two sons, both Mason High School Graduates, in the city he has come to cherish. He was a Department Head of Utilities for 35 years for the City of Mason, Village of Indian Hill, Butler County, and Green County before his retirement in 2012.

Despite his retirement, Fox remains heavily involved with Mason High School and the Mason community. Now, as the high school community has taken note of his impactful presence, The Chronicle sat down with Fox to learn the story behind the man who does much more than monitor study halls.

Q: What led to your choice to stay involved with Mason High School? 

A: Seven years ago, I retired and wasn’t ready to be done. I had three people who had had this job before me that had talked about it and I thought, wow, that’s just that’s a great fit for me because my degree was in education. But I never taught a day because I had a really bad student teaching experience at the sixth-grade level. Even though I didn’t start teaching immediately, I always thought that I would get back to teaching. Well, I never taught, but this opened up and it’s the next best thing.

Q: What motivates you to be involved in school initiatives and groups within the district?

A: I’ve always been a believer in giving back. I feel like I’ve gotten so much here. The least I can do is volunteer for a few things. It’s the feeling that I never spent a dollar on a scratch-off but I won the lottery. For example, I grew up with parents that loved me; I didn’t ask for those parents, and I grew up in a town that I loved; I didn’t ask for that town. Those things were given to me. And in fact, this job was given to me. I’ve gotten so much–why not give a little bit of that back?

Q: How is being a student at Mason now different than when you were a student?

 A: We didn’t have the opportunities that are out there. Now there are so many clubs and different kinds of bands and musical groups. You can take so many kinds of courses: honors, AP, a wide variety that we didn’t have. On the downside, we didn’t have the pressure to get into college that students do now. There wasn’t peer pressure about things like drugs. Honestly, there were no known drug users when I was in school, that just came about a few years after I graduated. I think it’s a little harder to grow up now than it was back then. Life was a little bit simpler.

Q: What are you excited to see when it comes to the future of Mason High School? 

A: This school is always expanding, and they’re always looking at new ways of doing things, or willing to take risks with new things, and I hope to see that continue. And sometimes we fail, but we’re failing forward. At least we’re moving forward. The fact that we’re not sitting still and doing the same things over and over and over, it keeps things fresh. It keeps teachers on their toes and keeps administrators and students on their toes. I think Mason will always move forward that way.

Q: Why do you love Mason so much? 

A: I’ve often said it would take a crowbar to pry me from Mason. It was a great town to grow up in and a great town for my kids to grow up in. Mason has always been home to me and it always will be. It’s that feeling that I wouldn’t feel this comfortable anywhere else. My parents have died, and my sister has moved away, but I have so many friends here. I just can’t imagine being anywhere else.

Q: Do you ever see yourself not working at all?

A: Well, the time will come. My wife and I have talked about it a lot. We want to travel and with a job, you can only travel at certain times of the year. So the time to be done obviously gets closer every day. Every spring that I’ve been here I’ve made the decision whether to leave or to stay and so far I’ve stayed, but we’ll see.

Q: Is there anything you wish the students at Mason knew about you?

A: I wish the students could know how much joy they’ve brought me and how much they’ve added to my life. I’ve always worked with adults, but never with young adults. I wish I would have been doing a lot sooner because it’s just very rewarding.

Photo by Henri Robbins.