Rolland Fox, the father of Canadian icon Terry Fox, has died at the age of 80.
In a statement, the Fox family said the family patriarch died late Tuesday afternoon “while listening to a little Hank Williams.” His death comes less than two months after the family announced he had been diagnosed with lung cancer.
The family said Rolland Fox, known as Rolly, fulfilled his promise to Terry facing cancer with courage, grace and plenty of humour. Rolly Fox started smoking at age 19, and quite in 1986 on a dare from his brother, the family said. He completed a 16-kilometre run the next year.
The statement described him as the “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.
“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.
Terry Fox had his right leg amputated in 1977 after he was diagnosed with cancer. He solidified his place as a Canadian legend when 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.
He was the youngest person ever named a Companion of the Order of Canada.
“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,” the family said in a statement.