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Marianne Paskowski



In Memory of Cox’s Jim Robbins

October 11, 2007 12:24 PM

I got that early-morning bugle call today to hear that Jim Robbins, former CEO of Cox Communications, died last evening at his home in Westport, Mass., after losing a protracted battle with an aggressive form of cancer that had spread to his liver and brain.

He was only 65 and had retired from Cox two years ago, leaving behind a most impressive track record that I don’t need to elaborate on in this space, because other journalists have done a fine job of summarizing his numerous personal accomplishments.

Instead, I’d like to share my personal story about a man who let me enter his inner world, and I thank him for his friendship. I last spoke with him this past April. He called me to express his condolences over the sudden death of my 5-year-old yellow Lab, Lucy. Jim also had a 5-year old female yellow lab named Lucy. Both dogs were obedience school dropouts, and we often commiserated over their misadventures. So he gave me the name of his breeder in southeastern Massachusetts, and now I have another yellow Lab, Maizey. Jim would not be surprised to hear that the spirit of Lucy lives on. This one, too, is a hellion.

Not only was I struck by his sympathy about my dog, but also the timing of that call. He had been fighting cancer for a while, having been treated by oncologists at Emory in Atlanta. He was now driving in Boston, and cussing at traffic, on his way to Massachusetts General Hospital looking for other treatments. We decided it would be better to talk when he wasn’t behind the wheel, and he later called me again that same weekend. This time we talked about him, and he said he was considering heading next to Sloan-Kettering in New York to study his options.

Over the summer I got an e-mail or two from him. He still had great interest in the business.

Just last week I heard from one of his many friends that he had taken a turn for the worse. Today is a day to mourn a man who has been a role model and friend to many. I hope you take some time here to share your own fond memories about a man who touched so many of our lives, professionally and personally.

Tonight the Cable Center is holding its Hall of Fame Dinner in Denver. I join you in spirit to toast our good friend and send him off with a final hurrah. Godspeed, “Big Jim.”

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Comments (12)

Marianne,

I had never met Jim Robbins, but your tribute made him real for me, especially when you wrote about Lucy.

Cory

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Cory,

Thanks for the post, I was trying to show a side of Jim that I was blessed to experience first hand. I couldn't believe, with everything going on with his health, that he would take the time to help me, that, at that critical point in his life. He is my hero, and we learn from our heroes to enable others to be their best. He had that quality. Let it live on.

Marianne

David:

What a special tribute to Jim. Thank you for sharing this story. At the end, what matters most is not the deals he closed or revenues he quadrupled, but rather the lives he touched.

Robin Sangston:

I'll never forget the way Jim made everybody he was around feel special. He had the rare ability to relate to everyone at every level of the company. I'll always fondly remember watching him shoot pool with a group of FSR supervisors at a company event after a recent acquisition. Dressed down (as always), but with his red wine glass at his side, he was completely un-self-conscious and genuine. I have no doubt he was enjoying himself just like a regular guy -- but he was no regular guy. He was truly one-of-a-kind!

Bobby:

For some reason, several Cox presidents have big Labs. Jim loved his, and pictures of them adorned his office. I even emailed him pictures of mine to him once, since we had that in common. I miss him so much, and feel so grateful to his family that we were able to have as much time with him at Cox as we did.

peter Nichols:

I spent a summer traveling around the West with Jimmy and Peter Kellogg (who I had introduced to Jim) "Operation Go West, as Jim referred to it, was a trip to remember full of adventure and nomadic, irreverent fun. Jim, in those days, was far from the buttoned up telecommuications executive that most people are familiar with. In fact, his nickname on our hockey team was "Rags" for his total lack of satorial panache. It does my heart good to hear that he continued to be just as down to earth and real in his dealings with all he met in his business life as he was even back in 1961 He was a wonderful man and he already is missed.

Kathy:

Jim Robbins was that rare combination of a brilliant charismatic leader who also knew how to be a real person who genuinely cared and related to people at all levels of the company. There are so many great stories about Jim because he was such a wonderful and fun person. One of my favorite fun memories of Jim was at his retirement party from Cox. Everyone who knew Jim knew that he was very unique in his somewhat disheveled clothing choices. He had a fondness for fleece vests, khaki pants and a sloppy hat. So, at his retirement party, every officer of Cox dressed in khaki pants, a fleece vest and a crazy hat. Jim's roar of laughter when he walked into the room and saw that sight was priceless. It is so funny to hear that his nickname was Rags from his hockey team!! And, it is not surprising that he called to offer sympathies about your lab even as he was battling cancer--he was that kind of a person. Everyone who had the good fortune to know him will miss him.

PK:

Marianne
Thanks. Your tribute said what many of us could not express.

CM:

Jimmy Robbins is who every person in the world should want to be when they grow up. I spent my entire life looking up to three people in the world. My grandfather, my father and mr. Robbins. It is so sad to lose one of my true role models in life.

Ann Calrsen:

In the words of Bruce Springsteen... "when they made you brother... they broke the mold". He was truly a wonderful human being.He was my mentor and a generous soul who gave me my start in this business through his endorsement and advise. I will always be grateful to him and will never forget him. He was all that is good in life and business.

Ann Carlsen

Ann Calrsen:

In the words of Bruce Springsteen... "when they made you brother... they broke the mold". He was truly a wonderful human being.He was my mentor and a generous soul who gave me my start in this business through his endorsement and advise. I will always be grateful to him and will never forget him. He was all that is good in life and business.

Ann Carlsen

Marianne Paskowski:

Ann,

You are of the same mold as Jim, and it's not broken as your reply clearly testifies, and do those of others. We were all blessed to have known this wonderful man.

Had no idea he gave you your start, he saw a good thing a mile away, and you are one in a million.I know firsthand.

Thanks for the post,
Marianne

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