National Clothesline
Sto Fox, strong advocate for cleaners
Watson Stoessel “Sto” Fox, Jr., a passionate advocate for drycleaners and the industry, died November 2 after a months-long battle with cancer. He was 71 years old.
He was born in Blacksburg, SC, in 1941 to the late Mary Lewis Doster Fox Danieley and Watson Stoessel Fox, Sr., and grew up in Greensboro, NC, graduating from Greensboro High School in 1959. He attended the university of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before serving in the United States Air Force.
After completing his military service, he worked at Sedgefield Country Club before joining the family business, Fox Cleaners, that had been started by his father in downtown Greensboro in 1947. From the beginning, the company adopted “You Must Be Pleased” as its motto, which Sto carried on and passed down to his children who still operate the business. He also had a successful career as an employment recruiter while running Fox Cleaners.
His passion for the drycleaning industry lead him to become the executive director the of the North Carolina Association of Launderers and Cleaners in 1998 after serving in various elected positions with the association.
Under his leadership, the association worked to create the Drycleaning Solvent Cleanup Act (DCSCA), a voluntary program that established a fund to help drycleaners and property owners investigate and clean up contaminated drycleaning sites.
The fund continues today due in part to the diligent work of the state association’s leadership under his guidance, helping to protect both the environment and the existence of small business owners.
Along with NCALC members Mack Davis and Denny Shaffer, Fox was honored at Clean ’05 with a Meritorious Service award by the Drycleaning and Laundry Institute for bringing the North Carolina cleanup legislation to fruition and making it work for drycleaners in that state.
He was also honored by DLI in 2001 for his distinctive sartorial style when the institute recognized him as among the 11 best dressed people in the industry.
While other honorees appeared in tailored suits and fine dresses, he wore his trademark white suit and hat which made him readily identifiable at any industry gathering. He also sported a matching white beard, which was apparently an addition to the look that came later in life since childhood friends recalled a pre-teen Sto showing up at church in a white suit.
His love for others was a trademark of his character while his style of genuine hospitality coupled with his eccentric personality proved over time to be a lasting influence on the many lives he touched.
He had an extended family that included special friends, many of whom regarded him as a father figure, mentor and confidante.
“Sto’s passion for this industry can not be questioned,” wrote Martin Young in a tribute on NCALC’s web site. “His loyalty and vision for DLI/IFI will be missed. A piece of my heart is missing.”
He and Gail Sandra Weber were married in 1969; she preceded him in death.
He is survived by five children: daughters Ashley Fox Thompson of Blowing Rock, NC; Brandon Fox of Greensboro, NC; Lindsey Fox Bean of Lenoir, NC; and Brie Fox of High Point, NC; and a son, Gregory Stoessel Fox of Greensboro, NC. He is also survived by eight grandchildren: Makenzie Thompson, Ella Thompson, Addison Thompson, Sandra Beane, Colby Beane, Aiden Beane, Demetrius Butler and Cecilia Fox; and a cousin, Jim Burton.
A celebration of his life was held at Deep River Event Center in Greensboro, NC on Nov. 17 where friends gathered to toast and share memories of his life.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to Beacon Place and with Hospice and Palliative Care of Greensboro, 2500 Summit Avenue, Greensboro, NC 27405.
Frank F. Filling
Cleaner, association leader
Frank F. Filling, Jr., 94, of Landis Homes, formerly of Lancaster, PA, passed away November 10 surrounded by family. Born in Millersville, PA, he was the son of the late Frank F. and Kathryn (Taylor) Filling.
He was the former president of Filling’s, Inc., Drycleaning, Men’s and Ladies Stores in Lancaster, PA, retiring in 1987 after 53 years with the company.
He served as president of the Central Pennsylvania Drycleaners Guild and the Pennsylvania Drycleaners and Launderers Association, now the Pennsylvania and Delaware Cleaners Association. He also served on the International Fabricare Institute board of directors and was instrumental in development of the institute’s school in Maryland.
In 1970, he received the “Keystone Award” in recognition of outstanding civic and industry achievements in Pennsylvania.
He was a charter member of the Lancaster Sertoma Club, serving as president in 1956 and as governor of Sertoma International 1957-1959. He was chairman of Sertoma’s Chicken Barbecue in 1961, the year it made it to The Guinness Book of World Records as the World’s Largest Chicken Barbecue. He also holds the club record of 54 years of consecutive perfect attendance.
During his retirement years he was with SCORE, a group of retired executives who help small businesses succeed.
Survivors include a son, Frank F. Filling III of Rock Hall, MD; a daughter, Susan L. Arnold of Lancaster; three grandchildren, two sisters and two brothers. He was preceded by his wife, Mabel “Mae” (Hassis) Filling. A sister and two brothers also preceded him in death.