A friend of a friend-Frank Schmalleger-Sammy Cox-May 29

One thing I have learned is that good friends have other good friends. This is a series of stories about “friends of my friends”. The post below is the story for May 29, 2015.

My goal in 2015 is to learn or get re-acquainted with 365 people and doing a daily post on the “the friend of a friend” is helping me get closer to my goal.

My wife has made sure that every one of our children around their 16th birthday got a used car to drive. She made a lot of sacrifices to make that happen when you have to do that five times. The car dealer she went to make these purchases happen all five times was Sammy Cox who has become an unofficial member of the Kenney family thru that role. He not only sold cars to the Kenney children, he repaired them, he lectured them about car maintenance, he picked on them about their latest love interest or lack of it, but most of all he did what all good friends do he treated us fair.

Sammy owns a number of different business enterprises but the one our family is familiar with is Sammy’s Auto Sales. Sammy’s dad who has served as Robeson County Commissioner in the past also is in the car business. His business is located today on West Fifth Street on the former lot of Freeman Motors.

Sammy family is very important to him. He is married to a successful medical professional named Onita Cox. Onita is a very important part of Sammy’s life and she has a way of keeping him grounded when he gets a little off course which occasionally happens.

Sammy and Onita Xmas

They are proud of their two children and grandchildren. When you see Sammy around his family you get to see a lot of smiles.

Sammy Cox Family

Sammy Cox is more than just a successful businessman he is also someone who serves others. He is very involved in our community on a number of different fronts. Sammy is a board member at Robeson Community College in Lumberton, NC, he is very active and involved with the Lumberton Lions Club, he has been a long-time supporter of his alma mater UNC Pembroke, and was one of the original 100 charter members of the UNC Pembroke Braves Club which was founded in 1977. In fact Sammy was president of the Braves Club in its early years and led the club to record fundraising totals.

It was in his role as athletic and university donor that I became to really get to know Sammy while I served as director of athletics from 1998-2012. He has done a lot to support UNC Pembroke and a visit to campus will allow someone to see the legacy he has created for the Braves. The baseball field at UNCP bears the name Sammy and Onita Cox Field.


Sammy has thrown out the first pitch on Cox Field a number of times since the field was dedicated. Sammy also has endowed a scholarship at UNC Pembroke for baseball which goes to support upwards of 6-8 student athletes on the baseball team each season at Pembroke.

Photo below shows Cox Field.


Sammy has not just supported baseball he is also a season ticket holder to Braves Football games. His philanthropic support in 2014 carried over to the sport of softball where he and Onita contributed for the UNCP softball locker room  to be remodeled. The new locker room is carpeted with wood-finished lockers and with player names on them. The university honored the Cox’s sizable donation by naming the locker room in their honor.

Sammy also has a background in law enforcement. He had the opportunity to get to know a professor at UNC Pembroke named Frank Schmalleger who taught Criminal Justice. They went on to become friends.

The Friend-SAMMY COX

SAmmy Cox

The Friend of the Friend-FRANK SCMALLEGER

Frank Schmalleger

The Professor and the Author

Frank Schmalleger went to some pretty prestigious universities to obtain his educational degrees. Those included Notre Dame and The Ohio State University. Shortly after he graduated with his Ph.D from Ohio State he found himself at UNC Pembroke in 1976.

From 1976 to 1994, he taught criminology and criminal justice courses at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. For the last 16 of those years, he chaired the university’s Department of Sociology, Social Work, and Criminal Justice. The university named him Distinguished Professor in 1991. He is also has the title “professor emeritus” at UNC Pembroke. For some of his tenure at UNCP I was the basketball coach and I know a number of my players found him to be a fabulous instructor.

He left college teaching at Pembroke and moved to Juno Beach, FL to pursue his writing. Dr. Frank Schmalleger was and still is a very gifted writer who has authored over 30 books. He continues to write or revised textbooks today. If you go to the link below you can see all of the books authored by Frank.


One of Frank’s books Criminal Justice Today is the top-selling criminal justice text of all time.  The publisher refers to it as the “Gold Standard for Criminal Justice Textbooks”.  Estimates are that Schmalleger’s texts including Criminal Justice Today are in the hands of around 340,000 students every academic year.

criminal justice today

One of the things that Sammy would always say about Frank Schmalleger was that “Frank had the ability to get your attention and keep your attention”.

I think the same can be said for Sammy Cox he knows how to keep your attention because of how much he supports his family, his community, and friends.

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