Rolland Fox, the father of iconic marathon runner Terry Fox, has died at the age of 80.
He died Tuesday afternoon “while listening to a little Hank Williams,” a statement on the Terry Fox Foundation website says.
The Fox family said in January that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer and that Fox was committed to approaching the challenge with optimism and a never-give-up attitude — attributes that he “likely passed on to his son Terry.”
The family statement said Fox fulfilled his promise by facing cancer with “courage, grace and plenty of humour.”
Rolly Fox started smoking at age 19, consistent with the times, and quit on a dare from his brother in 1986, the family said. He completed a 16-kilometre run the next year.
The patriarch was a “behind-the-scenes believer” in his son’s mission for 36 years and after the 2011 death of his wife and Terry Fox’s mother Betty Fox, he became more active, visiting Terry Fox Runs across Canada.
Terry Fox became a national icon after he ran more than 5,000 kilometres over 143 days in 1980 to raise money for cancer research. He died the following year at age 22.
“We have witnessed once again the pain cancer causes but we know, oh how we know, that we are not alone,” said the statement from the family.
“We have seen first hand the opportunities to extend life because of our nation’s collective belief and investment in cancer research, yet have been forced to accept that they were not available to Dad-Grandpa.”