Richard Fox: Remembering a ‘renaissance man’

Richard Fox was namesake of the business school and former Board of Trustees chairman.

Richard Fox, the namesake of Temple University’s business school and former chairman of the Board of Trustees, died on Feb. 9, 2020. | RAYMOND BETZNER / COURTESY

Richard Fox, a major real estate developer, member of Temple’s Board of Trustees and the namesake of the Fox School of Business, died at 92 on Sunday.

The founder and chairman of the Fox Companies, Fox served on Temple’s Board between 1967 and 2020 and was chairman between 1983 and 2000.

“For more than 50 years, Dick offered his guidance and support as a member of the university’s Board of Trustees, and the good work he accomplished cannot be understated,” wrote Ronald Anderson, the dean of the Fox School of Business, in a statement to The Temple News. “There is a long list of folks to thank for Temple University’s transformation to the dynamic and accessible campus that it is today, and Dick is one of the names at the top of that list.”

Patrick O’Connor, the former chairman of the Board, knew Fox since he joined the Board, he said.

“Dick loved the university second to only his family and is a treasure that will be missed,” O’Connor said. “He was one-of-a-kind and highly respected by his colleagues.”

“Under his watch, I saw first-hand the transformation of Temple from a commuter school into something more,” O’Connor added. “He was a very successful businessperson and cared deeply about the fact that education should be accessible and affordable.”

After serving in the United States Navy during the Korean War on the Battleship Missouri and the USS Howard D. Crow, Fox founded a realty company in 1953. He went on to develop Wachovia Center and Chesterbrook, an 865-acre community in Wayne, Pennsylvania, along with other sites throughout eastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. 

“He was a strong civic leader,” said Moshe Porat, former dean of the Fox School of Business. “Very patriotic as well.”

Fox was the founding chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition, and served as Pennsylvania state chairman for the Reagan campaign. Later, he served as national finance chairman for Jack Kemp’s presidential bid. He also served as chairman of the Jewish Policy Center, a pro-Israel think tank

“He cared a lot about his Jewish roots, about Israel, about Jewish education and the free market,” Porat said. 

Fox was also on various corporate boards dealing with corporate management, including Planalytics, Inc.

“He was a Renaissance man in so many different ways,” Porat said.

Throughout his multi-decade tenure on Temple’s Board, Fox made an effort to reach out to the student body and attended Temple Hillel for Shabbat on occasion, The Temple News reported.

“He would come to every graduation while still in decent shape,” Porat said. “He was a very, very strong role model with a good, good value system and a non-ostentatious life.”

He formed a close working relationship with Peter Liacouras, who was university president between 1981 and 2000. During their overlapping terms, the two men worked to make Temple into a more residential school, according to “Temple University: 125 Years of Service to Philadelphia, the Nation, and the World” by James Hilty.

“He was instrumental to that effort,” Porat said.

Fox became the namesake of Temple’s business school in 1999.

The university will host a memorial service for Fox today in Sullivan Hall at 1 p.m. 

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