Donald Fox was born July 22, 1942 in New York City to German immigrants Melville and Herta Fox.
“Don has been a magnificent leader and supporter of Wagner College through his active trusteeship and his philanthropy,” said President Richard Guarasci.
A member of the Seahawk soccer team and vice president of the Student Government Association, Fox earned his bachelor’s degree in history from Wagner College before pursuing an MBA at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, which he earned in 1966.
“My favorite Wagner professor was Lincoln Harter,” Fox said in a 2007 profile. “Though he was vice president of the college, he also taught political science. I took three of his courses, and did pretty well. He could really motivate students and his lectures were excellent. He was a great guy and very kind to students. I also remember Virgil Markham of the English department. When I was having difficulty, he took me in and helped me get through.”
Fox lived in Dallas, Texas for most of his professional life. In the late 1970s, he founded Texas Interocean, a reinsurance intermediary. In 1985, he started H.S. Fox Corporation with associates Robert Henderson and Alan Shepard. The three began the business on a card table, eventually growing it to the largest reinsurance brokerage of its kind in Texas. Not only was Fox proud of the company he and his team built, but he took equal pleasure in the great friendships he formed along the way. Fox was chairman and CEO of H.S. Fox when he sold the company in 1995 to the Marsh and McLennan Companies.
“Don was a well-known figure in insurance circles, but also a quiet and unassuming guy who loved Wagner,” said Jay Hartig ’67 H’09, former chairman of the board of trustees.
For 19 years, Fox served on Wagner College’s Board of Trustees: from 1985 through 1994, and again from 2004 through 2013.
“Don was a devoted board member who always added to our deliberations through his calm and wise manner,” said current board chairman Warren Procci ’68, “and he was quite entertaining and charming in social settings. He journeyed to Southern California to attend a party that Linda and I hosted to celebrate my 60th birthday and our 35th anniversary. He was a good trustee and a good friend.”
“He was such a supporter of Wagner College his entire life,” said former trustee chairwoman Louise Kaufman ’75 M’78 H’12. “He always had so much to add from his business experience and background. He was a charming gentleman.”
“I think in my memory, one of the most significant things Don did was provide a Board Challenge Matching program of his own for academic funding,” Hartig added. That program, which Fox started in the darkest days of the Great Recession, provided 10 Fox Scholars with $5,000 scholarships apiece for 3 years, enabling them to continue their college careers despite incredible economic challenges.
Fox was also deeply committed to supporting a multitude of service-research projects conducted by Wagner College faculty and students across four continents. Between 2007 and 2009 alone, the Fox Family Fund for the Advancement of Civic Engagement Scholarship provided nearly $100,000 for projects involving a dozen faculty members and hundreds of students that benefited thousands of people from Staten Island to Bangladesh and from Lima, Peru to Nairobi, Kenya. You can read about the products of his generosity in “What Don Fox Hath Wrought,” published by Wagner College in 2010.
“I love Wagner,” Fox said, “and when I sold my company, I put money aside and invested it to develop meaningful money for Wagner. I consider my giving to be my way of paying an IOU the college gave me when I graduated, and I hope that it will be a boost to the faculty.”
“Don would always describe anyone he admired as a ‘good guy,’ male or female,” recalled President Guarasci, “but Don Fox was the original ‘good guy.’ ”
Don Fox passed away in July of 2013. In light of all of his contributions to Wagner College he will posthumously be awarded the John ''Bunny'' Barbes ’39 and Lila T. Barbes ’40 Wagner Alumni Laureate at the Alumni Association Awards Luncheon on Saturday, June 14th during Reunion Weekend. His sons Alex and Graham Fox will be present to accept the award in memory of their father.