PRESTONSBURG - Chewing tobacco may not be advised by a doctor, but according to 104-year-old Jay Cox, its one of the keys to his longevity.
The World War II veteran was recognized Monday at the Prestonsburg VA Outpatient Clinic for his most recent birthday.
Cox said he first chewed tobacco when he was about four years old.
“My dad worked in the coal mines and he would cut a little strip off of his chew and give it to me,” Cox said. “It’s been a really good life for me.”
Dena Patton is the manager at the Prestonsburg VA Outpatient Clinic and said she’s known Cox for about 12 years.
“He’s 104-years-old and a World War II veteran and they’re just a strong and hearty breed,” she said. “He has a wonderful sense of humor.” The clinic recognizes his birthday every year and the Chapter 18 DAV honor guard usually performs a 12-gun salute for Cox.
Cox has lived his entire life in Chapman which is just outside of Louisa, KY. He worked in saw mills and logging lumber during his lifetime.
His daughter, Mary Catherine Perkins, said you wouldn’t be able to find anybody tougher than her father.
“Working in the saw mills is how he lost his thumb,” she said. “He’s probably broke about every bone in his body.”
Many of Cox’s family attended the Monday event including sons Bennie and Millard Cox, daughters Mary Catherine and Bonnie Moore and Niece’s Mildred Grimm and Nancy LeMasters. He raised 10 children.
“I just raised mine the best I could,” he said.
Cox served in the military for 3 1/2 years in heavy machine guns in the South Pacific
“I was raised pretty tough and then being in the military too,” he said. “It’s a good life to live.”
On Thursday, Cox was named a lifetime member of the Democratic Women’s Club. Cox joked that he tried to get them to name his nephew “as his second in command but I thought he’d be too old.”
“He eats well every day,” said his niece Nancy. “He’s got to have his cornbread and milk every night. He’s got to have that.”
Becker Cox said his dad also has a hard-pressed rule about how his food is cooked.
“You don’t use oil, you use lard,” he said.
Dr. John Furcolow, who is one of three physicians at the Prestonsburg clinic, has known Cox for more than four years and calls him ‘fiesty.’
“He’s very unique. What keeps him going is he stays active,” Furcolow said. “I’m always kidding with him that if he doesn’t stop chewing tobacco, he’s not going to live a long life.”
When asked bu Furcolow if he was still chewing tobacco, Cox quipped back: “Are you kidding me?”