By STEVEN NALLEY
For the first time in 10 years, Minnie Fox won’t be cooking for her own birthday party.
Fox has served for 14 years as the cook for the Oktibbeha County Jail, and she has also thrown her own birthday parties for the last decade. This year marks her retirement from the county sheriff’s department, so Patrick Fox said he and his brothers wanted to show appreciation to their mother, the department and the Blackjack Baptist Church the family attends.
“She’s done a lot for me, and she’s put up with a lot from the time she was born until now,” Patrick said. “She’s a very special lady to us.”
The Hilton Garden Inn will host a party in honor of Minnie Fox’s retirement and 65th birthday at 6 p.m. Saturday.
Attire is semi-formal, and requested colors are black and platinum. The public is invited, and no RSVP is necessary.
Minnie said the Hilton Garden Inn would handle the catering, but she and a friend would handle the decorations.
“The Hilton talked me out there so that I could sample some of the food that I’m going to have for the party this week,” Minnie said. “It was good, so I told them ... ‘I’m going to go along with this.’ I will let them do the food this time, but I am planning on having something a little later and (cooking) it myself.”
Before cooking for the county jail, Fox said she ran a catering business of her own, which she still operates part-time. When former Sheriff Dolph Bryan asked her to join the department as a jail cook, she said, she also became coordinator for the department’s RUOK program, which makes computerized monitoring calls to children, senior citizens or other vulnerable residents when they are home alone.
Bryan said Minnie was a loyal employee and a kind cook.
“She just loved everybody, and anytime there was a tragedy in anyone’s family, she was the first to take up money, get flowers and get food to take over to the house,” Bryan said. “She just loved all the people that worked there.”
Minnie said she loved her job.
“It’s very enjoyable, plus they had trustees in the back to work with me, to help me,” Minnie said. “I learned a whole lot. When I first started working at the jail, it seemed like some of the guys were so young that worked there, and seemed like they didn’t know ... how to work together with one another and how to (have) fellowship with one another.”
That’s when Minnie said she began bringing breakfast to her co-workers, including biscuits and sausage. Eventually, she said, she planned to throw a small birthday party at the jail, but more people came than she expected.
“So many people came, the sheriff said, ‘Oh, Minnie. We’ve got to have this some place else because we don’t have the room down here,’” Minnie said. “So we started having it at the Extension building, and each year it started increasing. It started to get larger and larger.”
Each year, Minnie saves up money to cook for the birthday party, and she said she does it because she enjoys giving back to the community. She said it can take a week or two to prepare the food.
“God has been so good to me,” Minnie said. “My enjoyment is buying (food), cooking it and seeing people enjoy it.”
Just because Minnie isn’t cooking this year doesn’t mean she is done cooking for her own birthday parties, she said. She said she plans to cook for another party next year “if it’s the Lord’s will,” and she is also planning to release a cookbook within about three months.