Thomas Fox
Thomas Fox

Thomas Fox, a Holocaust survivor who escaped to Israel before moving to Detroit, established an engineering career and an artistic hobby, with his creativity continuing into his final days.

At services celebrating the life of Thomas Fox, many observers could touch a treasured piece of jewelry being worn and experience a personal connection to the man honored after having lost his battle with cancer on April 17, 2021. He was 89. 

Fox, a Holocaust survivor who escaped to Israel before moving to Detroit, established an engineering career and an artistic hobby, with his creativity continuing into his final days. He filled his West Bloomfield home with hundreds of sculpted pieces and gave away what specifically was made for those who were close.

Daughter Lori Rodner wore a necklace made of concentric circles, symbolizing the importance of striving for bigger and better circumstances, while she delivered a eulogy that told about her dad’s devotion to family members, some following in his engineering career.

“I like working with my hands and imagining what I can do,” Thomas Fox told the Jewish News in 2018, when his daughters put together a coffee table book, Tom Fox: A Lifetime of Art, filled with pictures of his projects, some mechanical, that included works made of wood, metals and/or glass. “I want to do things that are unique.”

When grandchildren Hannah and Joshua Rodner expressed their remembrances, they listed characteristics, such as “kindness” and “loyalty,” to describe the man whose love so often was communicated through artistry. Hannah wore a necklace with her name in English and Hebrew, and Joshua wore a necklace with copper wire formed into the shape of a Fox head.

Before Rodner spoke about the functional shelf her dad designed to hold COVID masks, Rabbi Aaron Bergman of Adat Shalom Synagogue recalled Tom Fox’s early life. Fox was raised in an Orthodox Budapest household, where his father was a shoemaker and where he started experimenting with equipment design and repair.

The rabbi told about how this Adat Shalom member brought food to Hungarians forced into ghettos, served in the Israeli Air Force and went on to design and repair airplane parts. An aunt and uncle were at the center of the honoree’s move to Detroit, where he studied at Wayne State University before obtaining employment in the auto industry.

Created Judaic Art

Fox’s talents could be seen in objects intended to depict Jewish history or observe rituals. A member of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Michigan, he made sculptures representing Bible stories, including Moses carrying the Ten Commandments, Noah’s Ark and Jacob’s Ladder as well as menorahs and dreidels.

The family hopes to donate some religious artwork to Jewish organizations housed in local buildings. 

In illness, Fox told his wife of nearly 60 years that he would be around for her birthday, April 17, and he was — although not for the whole day. “My husband always kept his word,” Judith Fox said. 

Mr. Fox is survived by his beloved wife, Judith Koenig Fox; son and daughter-in-law, Jeffrey and Kathy (Barron) Fox; daughters and son-in-law, Sandra Fox, and Lori (Fox) and Darren Rodner; grandchildren, Jack Fox, Daniel Fox, Hannah Rodner, Joshua Rodner and Zachary Rodner; many other loving family members and friends. 

Mr. Fox was the son of the late Sandor and the late Lenke (Fischer) Fux; the brother of the late Kornel Fux; son-in-law of the late Anne Glicklin Koenig Levin. 

Interment took place at Nusach Hari Cemetery in Ferndale. Contributions may be made to the Jewish Genealogical Society of Michigan, Jewish Family Services or JewishGen. Arrangements by Dorfman Chapel. 

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Suzanne Chessler’s writing-editing career has spanned many years, and her articles have been featured in secular and religious publications across the state and around the country. There was a period of time when she maintained three regular columns in three different publications – one appearing weekly to spotlight metro volunteers, another appearing weekly to profile stage enthusiasts in community theater and a third appearing bimonthly to showcase upcoming arts programs. Besides doing general reporting, she has had continuing assignments involving health, monetary subjects and crime. Her award-winning work builds on majors in English-speech and journalism earned at Wayne State University, where instructors also were writers-editors on Detroit’s daily newspapers.