Cass Corridor mom who took care of neighborhood's kids dies

George Hunter
The Detroit News
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Detroit — Before the Cass Corridor became trendy, it was one of the nation’s most impoverished communities, where kids didn’t always get dinner or winter coats.

If Wanda Cox learned of their plight, however, no child in the neighborhood stayed cold or hungry for long. 

She didn’t earn a lot of money working as an attendant at the Cass Laundromat, and she had four children of her own — but that didn’t stop Mrs. Cox from sharing what she had with the neighborhood’s children.

Wanda Cox

“Anyone who ever needed anything, she was there,” longtime friend Roz Turner said. “She would anticipate people’s needs; they didn’t have to ask her for things because she’d already think of them."

Mrs. Cox died of congestive heart failure in her Detroit home Thursday, March 4, 2021. She was 79.

She was born Wanda Bunch on April 9, 1941, in a tiny shack in Stainville, Tennessee.

“She lived way up in the mountains,” daughter Anna Cox said. “It was pretty much ‘Little House on the Prairie’ stuff. She had a hard life, but she always was a fighter, and she always made it through OK.”

Mrs. Cox married Fred, who lived nearby, in 1959. Like many southerners of the era, he and his new wife moved to Detroit in search of employment opportunities — and like many poor Appalachians, they moved to the Cass Corridor, where Mrs. Cox established a reputation as a giver.

“One of the girls in the neighborhood had a mother who was a hooker, and (Mrs. Cox) brought her in and took care of her like it was her own daughter,” Turner said. “She bought her food, clothes.

"She did that for a lot of kids in the neighborhood. She was always smiling, always willing to do anything for anyone.”

Survivors include husband of 13 years, Charles Trenkle; daughters Anna Cox, Sherry Cox and Misty Cox; son, Freddie Cox; grandchildren Scott Barger, Jason Barger, Leslie Lara, Dwayne Urbanski, Tonya Davis and Ashley Anderson; 19 great-grandchildren; sister, Brenda Smith, and brothers, W.L. Bunch and Ronnie Bunch.

Mrs. Cox was preceded in death by her husband of 42 years, Fred Cox, and grandson Leslie Hammoud.

Visitation is scheduled for 3-8 p.m. Wednesday, March 10 at Fisher Funeral Home, 24501 Five Mile Road in Redford Township. A funeral service is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Thursday, March 11. Burial is planned in Knollwood Memorial Park Cemetery in Canton Township.

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