James D. Cox

July 16, 1938 ~ August 14, 2018 (age 80)


One of the world’s foremost radiation oncologists, James D. Cox died on Tuesday August 14, a month after celebrating his 80th birthday. A leader at MD Anderson Cancer Center for nearly thirty years, Jim was internationally acclaimed for his contributions to the treatment of cancer.

Born in Ohio, Jim attended Kenyon College, where he played football and graduated magna cum laude. At the University of Rochester School of Medicine, he met his first wife, Christa, while practicing classical piano at a neighboring school. Jim was mentored by pioneering radiation oncologist Juan del Regato at the Penrose Cancer Hospital in Colorado Springs. A fellowship at the renowned Institut Gustave Roussy in Paris inspired Jim’s abiding passion for France, medieval history, and wine. These years saw the birth of his three children: Valerie, Christoph, and Lara.

Jim served in the U.S. Army at Walter Reed before beginning his academic career at Georgetown University. In 1973, he was appointed founding director of the Cancer Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin, where he met his second wife, the radiation oncologist Ritsuko Komaki. While chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, he was recruited to MD Anderson Cancer Center in 1988 as Professor of Radiation Oncology, Physician-in-Chief, and Vice President of Patient Care, a position he held until 1992. From 1995 until his retirement in 2014, he served as Head of the Division and Chairman of Radiation Oncology and led the launch of the Proton Therapy Center, which opened in 2006.

Jim traveled widely for work and pleasure, most often to France and Japan, and to visit his grandchildren. He was a committed Democrat and an avid sports fan. Jim treasured his liberal arts education and served as a trustee at his alma mater, Kenyon College, which, in 2014, dedicated its new medical and counseling center in his honor. He is survived by his wife Ritsuko, son Christoph, daughter Lara, and five grandchildren: Lukas, Tristan, Livia, Aengus, and Pixie.

A memorial service will be held at the Bradshaw Carter Memorial & Funeral Service, 1734 West Alabama St., Houston, TX 77098 on Sunday, August 19, 2018 from two until five o’clock in the afternoon with the service at three o’clock. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to the James D. Cox Lectureship, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, P.O. Box 4486, Houston, TX 77210-4486. Donations can also be made online through the MD Anderson donation page by specifying the James D. Cox Lectureship at

To send flowers to James' family, please visit our floral section.


Memorial Service
August 19, 2018

2:00 PM
Bradshaw-Carter Memorial & Funeral Services
1734 W. Alabama St
Houston, Texas 77098

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