This story originally appeared in the Sept. 8 issue of the Community Voice. For your subscription, call 270-384-9454.
Shelby Hatcher was enjoying herself one day with some friends on her father Bryan Robertson’s boat. As they normally did most weekends, Hatcher and her family and friends were having a meal, and this time her father and his culinary sidekick Jason (Jay) Cox were cooking a low country boil.
After some time on the water, Hatcher heard a commotion on the other side of the boat.
“For a while, everyone thought I had a shellfish allergy, so this day they were cooking a low country boil,” Hatcher said. “Jay would fix me chicken because he didn’t want me to eat the shellfish in the boil. That’s just how he was.
“The next thing I know I hear them hollering. I went over to where they were and the whole low country boil pot had fallen into the water. All the food was gone. I wasn’t too worried about it though because I had chicken to eat. Jay and my dad just laughed.”
Unfortunately, Hatcher won’t have the chance to make those kinds of memories anymore with Cox. The beloved partner and operator of A&J BBQ, with his son Aiden, passed away Aug. 31 in Bowling Green.
“I work in the emergency room at T.J. Columbia and, the following morning, I found out Jay had been brought in after I got off work,” Hatcher said. “They told me what happened and that Jay was on a ventilator. In a way, I am glad I wasn’t there, but in a way I wish I was there.”
Cox was born in 1973 to William Dale “Bill” and Carol Cox. He is survived by his mother, son Aiden, brother John Cox, and Burton, of Columbia. Graveside services were Sept. 5. Cox was an organ donor.
“It was hard on me. I felt like I should have been there, but it was probably God’s way of protecting me. I would have jumped in there, but I don’t know how much of a benefit it would have been. I knew it was critical, and when it is somebody that’s like family, it is different.”
Hatcher first met Cox when he and her father would hang out together. And whenever Jay and Brian were together, it usually involved food, and that was a common love of both of them.
“Any gathering, Fourth of July, whatever it is, Jay and my dad would cook,” Hatcher said. “Jay was always the first to arrive and the last to go home. He had a special relationship with my dad, so it was so special to me now that Jay is the first one of the group to be in heaven with my dad.”
Gidget Baker Royse said Cox never knew a stranger, and if he was your friend, he was a friend for life.
“Jay has been a friend of ours for as far back as I can remember, at that time he was probably at our house five to seven days a week,” said Royse. “He’s probably had as many meals at my house as I have.
“The thing about Jay was he wore his heart on his sleeve and he was so easy to talk to. He just cared about everyone. Jay did so much for the community, and he was involved in everything.”
Hatcher said when people pass, their friends often say there will never be another person like the deceased. She said there REALLY won’t be another Jay Cox.
“Jay was really special,” she said. “After the first time you met him, the next time he met you it was like you were his family. He always had a smile on his face, and I don’t know if I ever saw Jay in a bad mood.
“He is probably in heaven right now looking down and telling everyone not to be sad. This is a big void for everyone that knew him, because there won’t be another Jay Cox. He was a friend to everybody.”