Comcast Founder Ralph Roberts Dies at 95

Roberts grew the company from a small, Mississippi-based cable operator to the communications behemoth it is today.

At the Comcast Center, Ralph Roberts was paid tribute on the lobby's video screens.

At the Comcast Center, Ralph Roberts was paid tribute on the lobby’s high-definition video screens.

Comcast founder Ralph Roberts has died at the age of 95, the company announced today.

Roberts founded what would become Comcast when he and two partners purchased a small Tupelo, Miss.-based cable operator named American Cable Systems from Jerrold Electronics in 1963. The company was incorporated in Pennsylvania in 1969, eventually rising to the cable, Internet, phone and content behemoth it is today.

“Ralph was a born entrepreneur, a visionary businessman, a philanthropist and a wonderful human being,” Comcast said in a statement. “Ralph built Comcast into one of America’s greatest companies and his vision and spirit have been at the heart of Comcast and our culture for 50 years. He will be truly missed. Ralph’s greatest love was his family, and our deepest sympathies go to his wife Suzanne and the entire Roberts family.”

A familiar sight around the Comcast Center, and always wearing a bow tie, Roberts graduated from Penn’s Wharton school and served in the Navy, according to a company bio.

His wife, Suzanne Roberts, is familiar to Philadelphians for her Seeking Solutions with Suzanne show on the Comcast Network and the Suzanne Roberts Theater on Broad Street. His son, Brian, succeeded Ralph as president in 1990 and is now its CEO. Ralph Roberts is also survived by Catherine, Lisa and Ralph Jr. (aka Rob). Another son, Douglas, died in 2011.

Last year, Ralph and talked to Philadelphia magazine about their long relationship.

SUZANNE: We’ve been married for 72 years. You need a wonderful love — and a super sex life. But when you get up in your 90s, sex becomes a wish. So you need a sense of humor. You have to realize that bad things are inevitable, so if you can learn to appreciate the good things, and use humor to get through the bad, you’re going to be pretty okay. He can make me laugh. Even now, we remind each other every night how lucky we are to have each other. And we never go to sleep without a kiss.

RALPH: With each other, that is. [laughs]

SUZANNE: What’d he say?

RALPH: That’s the sense of humor.

“His legacy is that he left a big, vibrant company, that is led by his son, that will live on for many, many years,” Comcast executive Steve Burke told the Inquirer. “As a person, his DNA is all over our company. Even though Brian is the CEO, Ralph set the tone from a business point of view.”