‘Rolly’ Fox, father of Marathon of Hope’s Terry Fox, dies at 80

"Our Dad and Grandpa is no longer telling jokes," says Fox family

VANCOUVER — Rolland Fox, the father of iconic Marathon of Hope runner Terry Fox, has died at the age of 80.

A statement posted on the Terry Fox Foundation website said the family patriarch known to friends and family as Rolly died on Tuesday afternoon, having been diagnosed in January with lung cancer.

“Our Dad and Grandpa is no longer telling jokes,” said the statement, adding that Fox died “while listening to a little Hank Williams.”

The Fox family had said in January that he was committed to approaching the challenge with optimism and a never-give-up attitude — attributes that he “likely passed on to his son, Terry.”

“He fulfilled his promise to Terry, facing cancer with courage, grace and plenty of humour,” the statement read.

“He thanked everyone, every time, as they left the room after caring for him, and each and every family member and friend after a visit.”

Rolly Fox began smoking at age 19 and quit on a dare from his brother in 1986, the family said in January, noting Fox had completed a 16-kilometre run the following year.

The patriarch was a “behind-the-scenes believer” of 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 was diagnosed with cancer and his right leg was amputated in 1977. He 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 in June 1981 at the age of 22.

“We have witnessed once again the pain cancer causes but we know, oh how we know, that we are not alone,” said the family statement.

“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.”

In a statement issued late Tuesday, Premier Christy Clark said “B.C., Canada, and the world have lost a dedicated, resolute pillar in the fight against cancer in Rolly Fox.”

“He made the hero’s dream to beat cancer stronger and closer — not just for him, but the millions of people inspired by him and the Fox family, and the thousands of families forever changed by life-saving cancer research.”

Just Posted

Mayoral results from across B.C.

Voters in 162 municipalities in B.C. set to elect mayor, council, school board and more

Who won and who didn’t in the Lower Mainland votes

A look at the region’s mayoral races, starting with Doug McCallum coming back to win in Surrey

Every vote counts: 10 tightest races in B.C.’s municipal elections

Peachland saw their election decided by just one vote

Highway 3 vehicle crash cleared

Drive BC reporting the incident happened 20 kilometres west of Manning Park

Majority of residents who responded to survey support marijuana sales in Hope

647 responded to a District of Hope survey on the sale and use of recreational pot

Tommy Chong says cannabis legalization makes him proud to be a Canadian

Legendary marijuana advocate and comedian celebrates cultural milestone at Kelowna event

Fraser Valley man dead after head on crash in Okanagan

Accident occurred at about 7:35 a.m.

Newly-elected Lower Mainland mayor won’t drink his city’s tap water

White Rock’s Darryl Walker is concerned about its quality

Kennedy Stewart challenged with building bridges as mayor of Vancouver: expert

The former NDP MP, who ran as an Independent, will lead 10 councillors divided across four parties

B.C. Youtuber to seal himself ‘in a jar’ to demonstrate impacts of climate change

Kurtis Baute wants to see how long he can last in a 1,000 cubic foot, air-tight greenhouse

One of Taiwan’s fastest trains derails, killing at least 18

The train was carrying more than 360 people

Scheer marks one-year countdown to federal election with campaign-style speech

Conservative Leader insists that it will be Justin Trudeau who ‘makes it personal’

Canada Post union announces rotating strikes in four Canadian cities

Mail will still be delivered but it will be delayed

Vancouver drag queens receive royal treatment during Kootenay Pride

Vancouver drag queens discuss the importance of Pride and growing acceptance of LGBTQ community

Most Read