Lynn Gilbert Fox, Sr.
Who has had the biggest influence on your lives and career?
"Our daddy", said Randy Fox, lead singer and one of the three blood brothers of the popular Williamson County Christian-Country quartet, The Fox Brothers.
His sonís answer is a simple, honest tribute to Lynn Gilbert Fox, Sr., who died in April, 1998, after a long illness. Behind his sonís answer is the story of a honest, hard-working father who devoted his life to God; his family; and his work.
Mr. Fox, Sr., was born in 1928 in a sturdy frame house near the intersection of Bending Chestnut Road and Garrison Road where the Fox family grocery store stands today.
A few years after graduating from Hillsborough High School in the Leiperís Fork community, he was drafted into the U.S. Army and was sent to Korea near the end of the Korean Conflict. He was stationed there for two years.
When he returned to Bending Chestnut in 1952, he married his sweetheart, Mildred Irene Dugan, on December 24, 1952. Their first son, Lynn, was born in September, 1953. Two other sons, Randy and Roy, were born a few years later, establishing the Fox family.
The same year his son Lynn was born, Mr. Fox went into the lumber business with his brother, T.C. Fox, and became the co-owner of The Fox Brothersí Sawmill, which they operated together until a few months before Mr. Foxís death.
It was in this hot, dusty working-man environment that Mr. Fox began to teach his sons the values and human relations skills that they use as entertainers today as they travel around the country, performing Country, Christian-Country and Gospel music as The Fox Brothers.
As kids, in the summer, we would work there, said Randy. Weíd deliver lumber and sawdust - whatever needed to be done. It taught us the importance of relating to people, especially how to relate to farmers; and thatís who we deal with now on the road.
Roy said that his father taught them to do things right, and do the very best that you can do. He did this by teaching his sons to take care of the land on which they cut timber. They used mules for logging as long as it was feasible, Roy said. He didnít like the way that heavy equipment would mess up the land.
Not only did Mr. Fox make an impression on his sons through his lumber business, he also impressed his friends and the business people with whom he worked.
He gave us work, when we were just starting our company, said Don Summers of Summers Lumber & Timber Company in Nashville, who inspected and sold walnut lumber for Mr. Fox. Heíd give us lumber on consignment. He was one of the most honest, kind and God-fearing men youíd ever run into.
Mr. Fox also instilled in his sons the importance of faith, Roy said. He did this in his personal life, as well as in a professional sense. Shortly after he was married, he began preaching and became pastor of Greenís Chapel Southern Methodist Church on Pinewood Road in Williamson Country, where he serve for almost 15 years. Later, he served as a lay minister for various congregations in Williamson County.
He never received a salary for preaching, said Roy. It was just something that he wanted to do. There were three things that consumed his life: his sawmill; his church work; and mentoring us.
That mentoring process had a direct effect on their musical career. After realizing his trio of sons had a natural inclination to music, Mr. Fox would haul the boys any place they were allowed to sing for the public. Heíd take us anywhere they would let us sing when we were kids, said Roy. We didnít have to be good back then, we just had to be kids.
Although Mr. Fox didnít have any musical skills, he knew how to draw the best from his sons. Daddy didnít know music; but he knew what sounded good to him. He listened to us from an audience memberís perspective, said Lynn.
He wanted us to sound pleasant when we sang. He told us we needed to be professional; always sing from our hearts; and be precise in our harmony. And, most importantly, he taught us to always be honest.
For those who knew him, that was what he was - hard-working; kind; and honest.
He will be deeply missed.