Ralph J. Roberts, the founder of Comcast Corp., died Thursday night in Philadelphia at age of 95. Roberts has been heralded as a leader in the cable television industry and as a respected American businessman and entrepreneur.
Roberts had founded Comcast in 1963, at the age of 43, after he purchased 1,200 subscriber cable systems in Tupelo, Mississippi. Prior to that, Roberts worked as a salesman and later CEO of Pioneer Suspender Company, the New York Times reports. He also had his own venture capital firm, the International Equity Corporation.
Comcast announced the founder’s passing in a statement and created a four-minute video in tribute to Roberts, which detailed his history at the company and included statements from his fellow executives. “He loved his work and all those who worked with him and for him. He was an icon, a mentor and a friend to so many,” the video narrator read.
In 2002, Roberts stepped down as CEO of Comcast and handed the role to his son Brian L. Roberts. The younger Roberts was appointed president in 1990 and later took on the chairman role in 2004. He now serves as CEO and chairman.
“Everybody loved Ralph. Wherever we went, Brian and I would get polite applause and Ralph would get a standing ovation,” said Stephen B. Burke, CEO of NBCUniversal and executive vice president of Comcast. In 2013, Comcast acquired NBCUniversal, adding content ownership to its already existing status as the country’s largest cable provider.
Roberts has been praised for his honesty along with his ability to have created a large company from the ground up. Roberts himself attributed his honesty to his business success.
“I just think I’m an example of what you can do in America starting with very little, and if you have good determination and you’re honest in what you do, you can be successful,” Roberts said in the tribute video. “I think many people have proved that. I’m just one of many.”
Ralph Roberts was a pioneer, an entrepreneur & good man. He has left a lasting legacy on the communications landscape http://t.co/N7lzorQrmX
â€” Tom Wheeler (@TomWheelerFCC) June 19, 2015
RIP Ralph Roberts. You truly lived the American Dream. An inspiration. Proud to work for the company you created. http://t.co/VcW0jkjNNX
â€” Scott Boyarsky (@seabass) June 19, 2015
RIP Ralph Roberts. A terrific example of honest, tough and yet humble leadership. http://t.co/hOAdnXdL5P
â€” Preston Smalley (@prestons) June 19, 2015
Roberts is survived by his wife, four children and eight grandchildren. A private service will be held for the family and a "remembrance ceremony” is expected in the future, Comcast announced.