With the Super Bowl approaching, the family of Simon T. Cox Jr. thought often of their deployed football fan in Iraq.
"He was so excited about sports and his family," said Dorothy Duff, his mother-in-law, recalling an animated Cox watching ESPN. "He would get so involved and yell at them ... ''You''re kidding me!''"
Cox, 30, of Mesquite, Texas, was killed Feb. 2 when a roadside bomb detonated near his tank in Taji. He was assigned to Fort Hood and was on his second tour.
Cox earned a bachelor''s degree in English from the University of Texas at Arlington and wanted to be a high school teacher after his service, having worked with students at Fort Worth''s Polytechnic High School. He also served as a youth minister at churches in Dallas and Mesquite.
"Our youth here are devastated because he really meant a lot to them and spent a lot of time with them," said the Rev. Mark Mills, pastor at Eastridge Park Congregation Methodist Church. "He carried some of them through some tough times."
"He was a good, compassionate young man," Duff said.
He is survived by his wife, Jeni Duff; and sons, James and Simon.