Robert "Bob" Allen Fox (age 91) died peacefully April 14, 2021 of pneumonia at home surrounded by his family. He is survived by Esther "Penny" G. Fox, his four children Debra Fox, Nancy Fox (Jon Edwards), Amy Fox (Daniel Wheeler), and Kenneth Fox (Ana), and nine grandchildren. He is predeceased by his parents Frederic and Zena Fox, his brother Richard, and his son James.
Bob Fox grew up in the Germantown and Mount Airy neighborhoods of Philadelphia and went to Central High where he was a top student, captain of the football team, and an All Public League football player. He went on to study Economics at the University of Pennsylvania and play football under Coach George Munger when Penn was a national powerhouse.
After graduating in 1952, he formed a home construction company with his brother Richard Fox. Together they built houses across the Philadelphia region, and in 1961, Bob Fox was elected President of the Philadelphia Home Builders Association.
Bob Fox joined Warner Concrete Company, serving as its President until 1979. During his tenure at Warner, he studied the waste management business and identified an opportunity to use Warner's land to build landfills and enter the waste management business. This led to the acquisition of over 25 garbage and landfills companies that led to the transformation of Warner Concrete into Waste Resources and a period of sustained rapid growth and shareholder value.
In 1979, Fox left Warner and founded RAF Industries with the acquisition of a lumber yard in Wilmington, DE. With the lumber yard as a starting point, he built RAF into a leading acquirer of building product companies such as Purdy, Bestt Liebco and dozens of others. Over time, Fox diversified RAF into consumer products, healthcare and services. Bob led RAF with an unwavering dedication to his values - the pillars of which were great relationships with the people who founded and managed RAF companies, uncompromising integrity and a straightforward style.
Fox remained dedicated to Penn, serving on its Board of Trustees from 1985 until his death. In 1999 he founded the Robert A. Fox Leadership Program at Penn and created three professorships. Over 10,000 Penn undergraduates have participated in the program which educates future leaders through a combination of coursework, events, and service. Fox received Penn's Alumni Award of Merit in 1999, the highest award presented to Penn alumni.
Fox's leadership was instrumental in transforming the Wistar Institute from a little-known research center within the campus of the University of Pennsylvania into an international leader in cancer research and vaccine development. A member of Wistar's Board of Trustees since 1974 and Board chair from 1984 to 1994, Fox also led the "Building Wistar, Changing the World" capital campaign. The five-year, $35 million campaign supported the construction of Wistar's Robert and Penny Fox Tower, with six floors of state-of-the-art laboratory space. The new tower enabled expansion of Wistar's research operations and scientific faculty and fostered opportunities for collaborative biomedical research, becoming a place of choice for leading vaccine and cancer research scientists to call their scientific home.
Over the years, Bob along with his wife Penny contributed to many initiatives, including the endowment of the Robert & Penny Fox Distinguished Professorship held by Wistar Cancer Center director Dario Altieri, M.D.; the launch of the Robert A. Fox Structural Biology
Center; and the renovation of Wistar's Grossman Auditorium. Bob was the first recipient of The Wistar Award in 1994, an honor that recognizes individuals who have been instrumental in ensuring the continuing vitality of the Institute.
Aside from Penn and Wistar, Bob and Penny Fox were also major donors to Drexel and Temple Universities, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Ballet, Moore College of Art, and many other institutions.
Fox was an avid golfer and a member of several country clubs, but felt most at home among the members at Squires Golf Club in Ambler.
Most of all, Bob Fox was dedicated to his wife of 68 years, Penny, their children and grandchildren. Bob and Penny met when they were 15 and 13 years old and have long adored, respected and honored each other. The family they shared, children and grandchildren, brought them the greatest joy. Fox relished spending summers on Nantucket with his entire family, but especially his grandchildren, all of whom called him "Bobby." His passion, enthusiasm and integrity have become hallmarks for his children and grandchildren.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, services for Bob are private. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in his memory to The Wistar Institute (wistar.org/robertfox or call 215-898-3955) or the University of Pennsylvania (https://giving.aws.cloud.upenn.edu or call 215-746-7962). www.levinefuneral.com