Colleen Fox has sent (via Society member Alan Munton) an obituary for the esteemed Lewisian Cy Fox (1931-2018), along with her eulogy for him.


Cyril James Fox (Cy)

July 26, 1931 to July 10, 2018.

Cyril was born in St. John’s Newfoundland and was the eldest son of Justice C. J. Fox, the First Chairman of the National Convention, and Mary Fox (nee Cashin). Born a proud Newfoundlander during a tumultuous time, Cy campaigned fervently for Responsible Government, and throughout his life identified always as a Newfoundlander. Cyril began his education at St Bonaventure’s College in St John’s. He was innately a scholar with a deep passion for literature and the arts.  Futile attempts to raise young Cyril’s nose from books and lower his head from his budding dreams earned him the moniker ‘Smell the Moon’ from his practical and ever pragmatic grandmother Lady Gertrude (Mullowney) Cashin. A last attempt to forcibly mold the scholar to a businessman by an ill-fated trial on the Grand Banks resulted merely in alternating bouts of nausea and relentless yearning for the written word, onshore! Cyril excelled at academics and after beginning his post-secondary education at Memorial University in 1948, completed his B.A. at St. F.X. [St Francis Xavier University, Anigonish, Nova Scotia]. He won the Rhodes Scholarship in 1952 and entered Merton College, Oxford, Law. After recuperating from contracting TB while in England, Cyril completed his Masters in Modern History at Columbia University, NYC. In 1961 he joined the Associated Press as a journalist in Newark, New Jersey. Two years later he transferred to the AP‘s partner, Canadian Press with which he transferred back to London England in 1967. From his London base Cyril roamed Paris, Belfast, Brussels, Cyprus and Bucharest covering a range of foreign stories including the Parisian student riots, the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the Turkish invasion of Cyprus and the UN Population Conference. In 1974 he became Chief Sub Editor of the Reuters World Desk at Fleet Street which saw him seconded to Hong Kong and New Delhi covering political events. Cyril retired from Reuters in 1986 and returned to Canada in 1994 after his health began to suffer from “years of relishing English beer in Fleet St pubs“ and his soul’s perpetual yearning for the Newfoundland of his boyhood. The adventures of his professional life were fondly and entertainingly memorialized by the publishing of his memoirs in 2009’s “New World, Old World: Bridging the North Atlantic”. During his decades abroad Cy developed deep and lifelong friendships that he cherished and stoked upon his return to Canada, and ultimately Newfoundland. Cyril was an enthusiastic student and collector of art and literature and amassed one of the world’s largest collections of the works of Wyndham Lewis. He was widely recognized as an expert on Lewis’ paintings and writings and was requested to lecture often and afar on Lewis. Cyril was a Trustee of the Wyndham Lewis Society and offered his expertise to Kensington Library, Dover College, Reading University and enthusiastically returned to Memorial University to give the E. J. Pratt lecture where he pointed up convergences between Pratt’s poetry and Lewis. Typical of his quiet, generous soul, in 2006 he donated his vast collection to the University of Victoria where it remains on site as “The CJ FOX Collection”. Cy was predeceased by his parents, C. J. Fox, and Mary (nee Cashin), his eldest sister Marie Fox, his sisters and their respective spouses Joan LaFontaine (Jean), Nora Cahill (Gerard) Sheila Ryan (Frank), his sister-in-law Madeline Fox, his infant brother Charles Fox, his infant nephew Jeffrey Fox, his nephew John Ryan and his infant great niece Kathleen Beer. He is survived by his non scholarly but athletic brother David Fox of St. John’s, numerous nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews. Cy was intuitively interested in who they were, and who they were becoming as Global Citizens. Cyril is resting at Carnell’s on Freshwater Rd in St. John’s. Visitation will be Sunday July 15th from 2-4 and 7-9. A funeral Mass in celebration of Cyril’s life will be held at the Basilica of St John the Baptist on Monday July 16th at 0930. In lieu of flowers, donations in his name may be made to The Learning Disabilities Association of Newfoundland and Labrador.

He never stopped hating fishing and fish.


Thank you all for attending the funeral mass to celebrate the life of Cyril Fox or Cy as he preferred to be called. When Father Costello asked for a family member to speak for 5 minutes about Cy, and dad quickly passed the buck to me, my first thought was pure panic: how to capture this enigma of a global scholar and traveller in merely 5 minutes. As his nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews can attest, the man we called Uncle Cy was a phenomenon to us. He showed up irregularly at family functions whether they be at his sister Nora’s country house in Manuel’s, his sister Sheila’s library on Winter Avenue, his sister Joan’s house in Gaspé, Quebec or his baby brother David’s house. No matter the venue he always made a grand entrance – a jovial “CHEERIO” and, as in the case of his beer swilling days in Fleet Street pubs, his booming voice corresponded with a larger than life physicality that was musingly reminiscent of the love child offspring of Orson Welles and Ernest Hemingway. And we would scurry to hear stories and marvel at his adventures. Nowadays CATSA, the airport security people renowned for being bereft of most of their Humanity and certainly all of their humour, would have had him taken down at gunpoint simply for the photos on his passport: his photos switched from a scowling hermit to a mad scientist grin to a fiendish felon as he filled book after book. We thought them hysterical and they added to the mystique of his persona. But a child’s viewpoint of such a mystical figure didn’t make for fabulous fodder for a family eulogy. So I turned to his sole remaining sibling – his brother David – or as we all call him FOXY. And I asked dad what was he like as a child – in typical Dave fashion all I got in response was “he was a lousy athlete”. “Always had his nose in a book”. Well Cy would have been proud of my journalistic insistence and I probed further to get my story – that is Cy’s story. How to get any tidbit of info on the intellectual from the kid whose idea of reading the classics was sneaking into the pharmacy and hiding in the feminine aisle to read comic comics.....when the pharmacist called his mother to complain she promptly and pragmatically thanked the good lord that he was reading something at least! I prodded for childhood stories – Foxy what about the time that Cy hung you from a tree in the back yard at Queens Rd? “Well that’s the story – he hung me“. Foxy there has to be a story behind it” – “what are you looking for – that’s it – he hung me”. At this point I was quite sure I had my answer to why Cy hung him in the backyard..... but it was pouring rain last evening during my Dave inquisition and the weather Cy cursed so much actually saved the life of his younger brother..... Needless to say my investigative journalism was all for naught. Capturing the essence of Cy from cross examining David was going to require a team headed by Robert Mueller himself, but knowing how Cy was eagerly anticipating the Fall of the American dunce of a despot who donned the orange hair, I dared not second any investigative aid that would delay the entire sane world’s delight. Thus creating Cy’s eulogy came fittingly full circle home to the Newfoundland of his boyhood with the family that formed the man he became. From Memories recalled from Cahill, Ryan, la Fontaine, and Fox stories I can confidently relay that some 86 years ago a very quiet studious and passionate young dreamer was born adoringly to a family that had 4 strong female siblings ahead of him in birth ordinance. Cy’s birth into a bustling and structured very political Irish Catholic family on the precipice of a national crisis was ripely destined to create one totally unique being.... those 4 sisters, his staunchly moralistic and ethical mother, and his no nonsense pragmatic grandmother all eagerly reached for this sole male chromosome that arrived in a sea of estrogen and emotion and they all sought piecemeal to mold the man they all wanted him to be. And thus with such sculptors what being could possibly be the carefully crafted outcome of their love and influence? Cy was the byproduct of 6 strong women’s visions for what this world needed and would need. And to give him his due he personified all of their beliefs and dreams.

Like his eldest sister Marie Cy was quiet and gentle of nature. Marie was wise and reflective ahead of her years as she battled health issues that eventually took her life at a mere 30. With her spirit of humility Cy amassed a world renowned collection of the works of his obsessed artistic hero Wyndham Lewis. Yet he simply and humbly dedicated his life’s passions to the university of Victoria. The value? Who knows – the good lord can attest that Cy himself had no knowledge or interest in its monetary value. To him it represented a lifetime of collecting and he wanted it to be available to any and all who would enjoy it. How do you put a price on that? It was priceless. Marie would agree.

His sister Joan had a fiery persona and a determination to become her own woman and carve her own path to happiness. She had spunk and humour and stoked the flames of his avant-garde bravado. It was because of the influence of Joan’s vivaciousness that Cy’s raucous humour infected us all. We all loved our Christmas cards he sent from Auswitz, the pics of himself in self deprecating positions, his pure joy in laughing and providing laughter and making each Reuters assignment an adventure. These were qualities directly reflective of Joan’s influence on him.

By emulating the softness of his sister Nora Cy learned to love and revere family. Nora had such a strong singular ability to love unconditionally. Nora held her family so dearly and tearfully close to her chest. It was because of her lessons of love that Cy, a seasoned bachelor, made efforts above and beyond what the usual unnagged male ever did in order to keep in touch and close to his family despite the physical oceans between them for the majority of their lives. Nora instilled in her younger brother the need to nourish family ties and the importance of love and communication. She is the reason he remained connected throughout his global gallivants. He did NOT, it must be added, get his yearning for travel from overly Ativaned Nora! Oh how she worried for him and hated his travels abroad. Imagine Moya how much worse she would have been for you if Cy hadn’t somewhat broken her in for you? How many more rosaries would she have had said for all your air miles!

The boy named after his father shared with the sister named after a horse called Sheila, a deep passion for NL. Yes yes yes he complained about it! But He complained about everywhere he went! Victoria was full of the old people and dead people, Toronto was a sanctimonious icebox, London has horrendous snobbery and outrageous Health Care (great pubs though – awesome pubs !!) and NL had RDF from March til June. And we heard about it from July to February!! With Sheila’s unwavering loyalty Cy learned fairness and was a quick study in her simplistic lessons of right and wrong. Sheila’s common sense and her singleminded determination to walk the walk inspired a young Cy to speak up and voice his passions. The political climate of the 30’s and 40’s was tumultuous and ripe for exploitation of a people. But the boy who campaigned fervently for responsible government became the impassioned teen who witnessed his much too young father become a victim of the times. He mourned his father simultaneously as he lost his country. His national identity keened for his homeland. His mother, seeing her son at the beginning of a Journey to despair fighting a battle against political giants with deep agendas that had already cost her her husband, moved to save her son and his soul by sending him off to the mainland. And there His life as a scholar began. He thrived and flourished in a world of academia and from The Rhodes scholarship was born a global love of people. Of their stories. Of their passions and of their dreams. Already having solidified the boyhood lessons taught lovingly from his sisters he took his gentility, his humility, his love of family, his passion for what was right and his confident knowledge that Home would always be here for him out into the world. And he met the people of the world. He learned their stories. He shared their stories. He humanized the demonized. He gave voice to the desperate and hope to the unloved.

And while planning a funeral for a man who was eerily silent about his very personal Faith, it was surprisingly simple to put his life into a Mass of Christian Burial. Because upon reflection, it really was quite simple. Cy did what Christ himself did. He treated each person he met as his brother....well except he didn’t try to hang them.

[Personal and historical note: Cy Fox’s father – also Cyril James Fox – was born in St John’s, Newfoundland in 1889. He was married to Mary Cashin. A lawyer, a judge and a politician, he died unexpectedly in 1946. In 1948 Newfoundlanders voted in a referendum to choose between confederation with Canada, or dominion status with the UK. The confederates won by vote of 51 per cent to 49 per cent, and Newfoundland became Canada’s tenth province in March 1949.
From the obituary posted nearby: “Cy was predeceased by his parents, C.J. Fox, and Mary (nee Cashin), his eldest sister Marie Fox, his sisters and their respective spouses Joan LaFontaine (Jean), Nora Cahill (Gerard) Sheila Ryan (Frank)”.]