Ralph Roberts Remembered as “Tireless Humanitarian”

Ed Snider, Todd Carmichael, Michael Nutter and more react to Roberts' passing.


Ralph Roberts | Comcast

Ralph Roberts | Comcast

Ralph Roberts was “inspirational,” a “tireless humanitarian,” a “consummate gentleman,” and “the man I hope to evolve into one day.”

There’s little doubt that the man who grew Comcast from a tiny cable operation in Mississippi to the country’s largest provider of cable and Internet is very much revered in the business world.

Here’s just a sampling of what the business community is saying about Roberts after his death:

Ed Snider, Chairman of Comcast-Spectacor:

Ralph Roberts was a great partner and an even greater friend. He had a wonderful sense of humor and he was very inspirational to me personally. I will really miss him. We all will. My heart goes out to his wife, Suzanne, and the entire Roberts family.

Todd Carmichael, CEO of La Colombe:

If you ever met Brian Roberts and you wonder why he’s such a good CEO, why he’s so disciplined, clever, smart and funny? It’s because he’s just like his dad. Ralph was a brilliant man, and he had a way with people. I’m often searching for people who have “that thing” — and he had “that thing.” You just go “oh my god, you’re the man I hope to evolve into one day.”

Mayor Michael Nutter:

Ralph Roberts was a consummate gentleman, kind and gentle husband and father, and a great business leader. Our city has lost a wonderful champion with his passing. I’ve had the pleasure and opportunity to get to know him over the past decade, and I learned many lessons from his quiet, yet direct perspectives on business and engaging with people. His entrepreneurial spirit reflects the spirit of innovation that has been the hallmark of Philadelphia for centuries. Ralph Roberts created Comcast, and the giant of a company that it is today, through his steadfast commitment to creating a family-type business environment, and through his inspired leadership. Typical of his leadership style, he encouraged his son Brian and other talented professionals like David L. Cohen to take on senior positions within the company. It is often said that a man is not known by what he does for himself, but by what he does for others. Asking his son and others to step-up and become leaders within Comcast exemplifies the type of man he truly was.

Virginia Logan, Executive Director of the Brandywine Conservancy and Museum of Art:

He was a member of our board from the mid-1980s and at the time of his death, was still a trustee. We greatly benefitted from his wisdom, his personal warmth and his generosity. We’re really saddened to have lost such a great trustee, great friend to the institution and the people. He was a great personal friend of our chairman as well. We’re grateful to have had privilege to have known him and benefited from our affiliation with him for so many years.

Amy Gutmann, President of the University of Pennsylvania:

A 1941 graduate of Wharton, Ralph always remained close to his alma mater and was ever generous with his time and talents. His legacy is abundant here, including Penn Medicine’s Roberts Proton Therapy Center, a place of hope and healing established in 2009 through the generosity of Ralph and his family.

Ralph served as a longtime member of the Penn Medicine Board and actively supported athletics, undergraduate financial aid, and his class. In recognition of his good works and lifelong connection with Penn, we honored Ralph in 2005 with the Doctor of Laws honoris cause.

Ralph was a business leader of much-storied acumen. He was Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Comcast Corporation, the company he grew from a tiny Mississippi cable television system to the nation’s largest provider of Internet, phone, and video services, with holdings to include NBC Universal.

Ralph loved Penn and he loved his city. He was tireless in his humanitarian efforts and steadfast in his citizenship, and his many honors include the Philadelphia Award, which he received together with his wife of over 70 years, Suzanne, and the Urban League’s Whitney M. Young Jr. Award for Leadership, Diversity, and Excellence.

We offer our deepest condolences to Suzanne and all of the members of the Roberts family in this time of loss and remembrance. 

The Philadelphia Orchestra:

The Board of Directors of The Philadelphia Orchestra mourns the loss of Ralph Roberts. He was a pillar of the community and contributed generously and selflessly as a philanthropic leader to the Orchestra and to the Academy of Music during his lifetime. He and his lovely wife Suzanne were regular concert goers, enjoying the Orchestra’s performances at the Academy of Music and the Kimmel Center extending back to the 1980’s. Ralph was a valued member of The Philadelphia Orchestra Association Board of Directors from 1987 to 1994 and continued on as a member of the Council of Emeritus Directors. He and Suzanne were generous donors to the Orchestra, supporting the annual Opening Night celebrations and the Academy of Music Balls, as well as the Orchestra’s endowment and annual fund campaigns. Ralph also directed many generous gifts made through Comcast to the Orchestra over the years. His legacy of leadership at the Orchestra was passed on to his daughter Catherine R. Clifton, who served on the Board of Directors between 1997 and 2006.