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Former Mexico President Has Cincy Ties, 17 Oct 2007

CINCINNATI -- When former Mexico president Vicente Fox comes to Cincinnati to speak to Hispanic business leaders, he'll also be getting back to some of his roots.

While it was not well-known locally until recently, Fox's grandfather, Joseph Fox, of German descent, grew up, went to school, and worked here before moving to Mexico near the end of the 19th century.

The local Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has lined up Vicente Fox to be its keynote speaker for its annual gala Nov. 7.

"This is a story that should make us proud," said Alfonso Cornejo, a Mexican native who is president of the chamber. "It's a story about immigration across countries. ... Cincinnati will always be linked to the history of Mexico."

Fox, Mexico's president in 2000-2006, has talked about his grandfather during a recent round of national TV and radio appearances promoting his book, "Revolution of Hope." That's had some Cincinnati-area residents reviewing their familial ties to him, and a private party with Fox is planned with his relatives here next month.

Linda Pape, whose late husband, John Wesley Pape Jr., was a distant cousin, has faded letters, photos and other keepsakes about Joseph Fox, whose family changed its name from the German Fuchs. Pape's husband-to-be and his father visited the Fox family's ranch in Mexico, and came home with a red-and-yellow bullfighting cape she has hanging on her wall.

Reid Sikes recalled his mother, Jane Hageman, speculating several years ago that they were related to the president of Mexico. "We all laughed at her," Sikes said.

But his mother, an avid historian, tracked the links and proved she was a distant Fox cousin before she died in 2003. "The most meaningful thing about this is that it's the realization of a dream my mom had," said Sikes.

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