Richard “Dick” J. Fox, 92, a regional real estate developer, longtime trustee at Temple University, and namesake of its business school, died of natural causes Feb. 9 at his Center City home, his family said.
“Dick Fox had a tremendous and lasting impact on Temple University," Temple president Richard M. Englert said in a statement. “We all mourn the loss of one of our most valued members of the Temple family."
Born in 1927, Mr. Fox was raised in the city’s Germantown and Mount Airy sections, graduating from Central High School in 1945. He enlisted in the Navy as a pilot and trained at Georgia Tech, later serving in the Korean War. After the war, Mr. Fox and his brother, Bob, entered the real estate business, though Bob would move on 10 years later. Under Mr. Fox, the company developed shopping plazas, houses and apartment buildings, as well as the sprawling 880-acre Chesterbrook planned community in Tredyffrin Township, Chester County, and the Philadelphia sports arena now known as the Wells Fargo Center.
Mr. Fox served on Temple University’s board of trustees continuously since 1967, leading the body as chairman from 1982 to 2000. The business school was renamed in his honor in 1999.
“While our school’s name speaks to what Dick Fox meant to the Temple University community, his impact and legacy goes far beyond that,” said Ron Anderson, dean of the business school. “His unwavering support and guidance helped set the Fox School on its current path, and his legacy lives on in every student who pursues a business degree at Temple.”
Mr. Fox’s son Harry said his father imbued his children with a deep sense of justice and right and wrong. Those qualities were on display, Harry Fox said, when his father led Temple’s board through times of significant friction with the school’s neighbors in the 1980s and ’90s as the school expanded and dealt with complaints about gentrification.
“The community was really angry at that point,” Harry Fox recalled, but “he’d talk about the people he met with such dignity and respect, it made a deep impression on me.”
Patrick O’Connor, who later also served as chairman of Temple’s board of trustees, said the period marked Temple’s transformation from a commuter school to a university with a much broader scope.
“It got solved," O’Connor said, crediting Mr. Fox’s leadership, "and I think all the neighbors embrace what it is.”
It wasn’t the only project that faced opposition: Mr. Fox’s Chesterbrook development was opposed by residents for years, but like Temple’s expansion, the project was completed thanks to Mr. Fox’s “great determination,” O’Connor said, and is now home to thousands. Mr. Fox sold his last piece of the mixed development consisting of housing, shopping, a hotel, and a corporate center in 2006, according to an Inquirer article.
“At the end of the day, things got built," O’Connor said.
In addition to his son Harry, Mr. Fox is survived by his wife of 67 years, Geraldine; sons Michael and Frederic; daughters Jennifer and Celia; and seven grandchildren.
Memorial donations may be made to the Fox School of Business General Scholarship Fund through giving.temple.edu/givetofox.