Ralph Roberts was an entrepreneur and a great American businessman who played a key role in the development of the cable television industry. He was a philanthropist deeply involved in community and civic activities in Philadelphia and around the nation. Most importantly, he was a dedicated husband, father and grandfather.
Ralph moved to Philadelphia with his mother and brother from the suburbs of New York when he was 12 years old. He attended Germantown High School, followed by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, graduating in 1941. After a four-year tour of duty in the United States Navy, he married his wife, Suzanne, and together they settled in Philadelphia.
Ralph founded Comcast in 1963 with the purchase of a 1,200-subscriber cable system in Tupelo, Mississippi. During his five decades at Comcast, Ralph became one of the most well-respected executives in the industry for his visionary leadership and spirit, his passion for the industry, his intelligence and wit, his deep sense of integrity and his humility. Under his leadership, Comcast grew from its humble roots into one of the world’s leading media and technology companies. Ralph’s core values – honesty, entrepreneurialism, family, hard work and dedication – remain Comcast’s guiding light as the company celebrates its 55th anniversary this November.
Ralph was admired and acknowledged throughout his life for his quiet leadership in both his business and humanitarian endeavors. He loved his hometown of Philadelphia and he and Suzanne were passionate about supporting the city and community.
Ralph served on the boards of the Council of Emeritus Directors of the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Brandywine Museum and Conservancy, as well as the Advisory Board of the Greater Philadelphia Urban Affairs Coalition and the Penn Medicine Board of Trustees. He also served on the national and regional boards of the National Conference for Community and Justice and was a Charter Member of the World Business Council. Meanwhile, Suzanne has dedicated her life to helping others, creating and hosting the Emmy Award-winning show Seeking Solutions with Suzanne. Together, they committed to the fight against cancer, helping to establish the Roberts Proton Therapy Center at Penn Medicine in 2006. The Center is the largest and most advanced facility in the world for proton therapy, a precise form of cancer radiation, and is housed within Penn Medicine's Department of Radiation Oncology. Just before his passing, Ralph and Suzanne were presented with the Philadelphia Award in recognition of their lifetime contributions to the City of Philadelphia in the worlds of business, philanthropy and arts and culture.
Despite all of his achievements, Ralph’s greatest joy was his wife of 70 years, Suzanne, and the family they created together, including his five children and their spouses, his eight grandchildren and now his one great-grandchild. Throughout his life, Ralph spent as much time as he could with his family. An entrepreneur who believed a good idea could come from anywhere, Ralph wanted to make sure that each of his children and his grandchildren knew they could do anything in life. In fact, he made sure that the first word each learned to say was ‘yes.’
Today, Ralph is remembered for these lessons, which he instilled not only in his family but in all the people who had the honor to know him. His contributions and kindness will never be forgotten, especially in the city he was so proud to call home.