Marilyn Cox


OHS Class of 1957

Marilyn Lashley Cox, the youngest of seven girls, was born to Ray and Lela Lashley on their Ash Mesa farm. Except for her first year when she went to the country school of Highland, Marilyn attended Olathe schools, graduating as co-valedictorian from Olathe High School 55 years ago, May, 1957.

“I feel so fortunate to have the childhood opportunities that I had. I grew up in a large family, with older parents,” she states. “I was taught to respect older people and to be kind and helpful to everyone. A work ethic was instilled in us very early on. We were taught that if a job is worth doing, it is worth doing right. Daddy also told me that if I believed in something, to never back down and always do the right thing. Those simple philosophies seemed to be shared by many of my Olathe friends and have served me well throughout my life.”

Marilyn married her childhood sweetheart, Harvey Cox, and the couple had four children–Doug, Pam, Cindy and Lori. To this day, Marilyn feels that her children are her greatest accomplishment and the most important part of her life. They have given her eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.  “It just keeps getting better and better,” she says.

Marilyn was able to be a stay-a-home mom until her youngest started kindergarten. “That’s when I started working for School District RE-1J, starting in food services,” she stated. “The next year I was fortunate to get a job at Montrose Junior High as office secretary. Within a few years, I became the Principal’s administrative assistant. I loved my job and learned something new every day. The school changed names and configurations several times while I was there—it is now Columbine Middle School.”

When the position of museum curator came up in 1984, Cox was up for the challenge. Laughingly she says, “I didn’t know how much of a challenge!  At that time, the museum was young and so was I. Since I had two months off from school in the summer and the museum was open five months, the two jobs overlapped. There was so much to learn. I attended workshops and asked a lot of questions of other professionals.”

Following retirement from the school district in 1993, Cox put all of her energy and efforts into the museum, preserving and sharing history with the community. The museum made numerous changes, tripling in size. In 2006, after almost 22 years, Marilyn retired from the museum.

Her downtown walking tours of both Montrose and Olathe were shared with local schools. In 2006, she co-authored the book “Take a Closer Look, Montrose, Colorado”. Much of her material, as well as her expertise, were used on the informative walking tour panels in historic downtown Montrose.

In 1996, Marilyn had the opportunity to start writing a weekly newspaper column, “Step Back in Time”, which chronicles local history. She has interviewed many old-timers and continues to research constantly. She has also written for various publications including Destination Montrose and Montrose Style. She has led both walking and driving tours and given many programs, in addition to helping countless families discover their roots.

“History is so important. How do you know where you’re going, unless you know where you’ve been? We learn so much from our history and it is fascinating. Research is like putting together a huge jig saw puzzle—so exciting and fun!”

Marilyn continues to contribute to the preservation of history by serving on the board of the Museum of the Mountain West and is a lifetime member of the Montrose County Historical Society. In 1995, Marilyn was awarded the AARP National Women’s History Month Award and was the Grand Marshall of the Holiday Parade of Lights in 2005.

Marilyn stays active, enjoying her family, hiking with the 500 Mile Walkers and doing some traveling.

“One thing I know,” Marilyn says, “is that I will never be content to sit around and do nothing I love being active and love to continue learning and giving. I feel so humbled to receive this Distinguished Alumni Award from Olathe High School. I’ve always been proud of my school and feel my education there served me well. Thank you to all who have enriched my life.”