Ralph Hancox Memorial Scholarship
Ralph Hancox – Writer and journalist, Man of letters, bibliophile, publisher, Nieman Fellow, photographer, pilot, father, husband, grandfather and great grandfather. Born in England 23 August 1929; died Victoria, BC 22 March 2017. Intered Catarqui, August 18, 2017.
A scholarship fund for students in the Master of Publishing Program will be established to honour Ralph’s commitment to the publishing industry and his dedication to his students at Simon Fraser University’s Master in Publishing Program. The purpose of the scholarship will be to support a master’s student education recognizing that Ralph valued education, writing and a wondering mind and his students who demonstrated these qualities.
Ralph joined the SFU staff and worked as Adjunct Professor in the late 1990’s. He worked with Anne Cowan-Buitenhuis and Rowland Lorimer in the newly established Master of Publishing Program. Ralph served as Adjunct Professor and Professional Fellow Emeritus at Simon Fraser University where he published a textbook on ‘Managing the Publishing Process’ for the Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing. There, he was honoured with the Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Service for 10 years of teaching before he retired again at the age of 80, in 2009.
More about a scholarship fund in Ralph’s honour
- To donate, see http://bit.ly/RalphHancoxFund (tax receipt available from SFU)
- If we raise $4500 – Annual graduate bursaries, scholarships or awards can be created for $1,500 per year, with a minimum three-year commitment.
- If we raise $25 K+ – we can establish a graduate scholarship in perpetuity in Ralph’s name for ~$500 /per year for every $25 K invested.
Ralph attended the School of Modern Languages, Regent Street Polytechnic in London, where he mastered Pitman shorthand, a prerequisite skill for his early career in journalism. He arrived in Canada in 1955 with his new bride, newborn daughter, and a vintage German Olympia typewriter in hand. His exceptional typing skills of 125 wpm, his sharp and inquisitive mind were tools that launched an iconic career in journalism that spanned 54 years on the Canadian publishing landscape.
In 1965, Ralph won a Nieman Fellowship recognizing excellence in Canadian editorial writing at the Peterborough Examiner and attended Harvard’s Nieman Foundation for Journalism. Later he joined Harvard’s Program for Management Development at the School of Business.
Ralph started his career as a pilot in the Royal Air Force, training in Rhodesia, at the tender age of 17. He described the experience of flying the Tiger Moth, Harvard, and the first RAF jet, the Gloster Meteor as “hurtling through the air in a tin can with a ton of metal strapped to his backside.” He flew in the Berlin Airlift in 1948, and later as a journalist covered the building of the Berlin Wall. In 1961, he traveled via the underground from East to West Berlin through the Wall under the conditions that he would not report on his experience.
In Canada he started his career in journalism writing obituaries for the Kingston Whig Standard.
In 1965, Ralph won a Nieman Fellowship recognizing excellence in Canadian editorial writing at the Peterborough Examiner and attended Harvard’s Nieman Foundation for Journalism. Later he joined Harvard’s Program for Management Development as part of the PMD 26 cohort at the School of Business.
After a career as Editor-in-Chief at the Peterborough Examiner as a colleague of Robertson Davies, he joined the Reader’s Digest where he worked for 32 years. Ralph ended his first career, serving the last 16 years as Chairman, President, and CEO of Reader’s’ Digest Canada and Consigliere delegato and chairman of Reader’s Digest Italy. Post retirement he served as Adjunct Professor and Professional Fellow Emeritus at Simon Fraser University where he published a textbook on ‘Managing the Publishing Process’ for the Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing. There, he was honoured with the Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Service for 10 years of teaching before he retired again at the age of 80, in 2009.
With his wife Peg, Ralph (aka Hank) lived a life post-World War II in Canada pursuing family and career dreams in Kingston, Peterborough, Boston, New York, Montreal, Milan, Vancouver, and Victoria, with summers in the Kawarthas and weekends of leisure in Vermont. A storyteller at heart, he regaled generations of family and students with lessons he learned from his rich life experiences. “Good judgment comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgement” he would say, quoting his mother.
He was a man of letters in the classic sense: fountain pen, elegant italic script to paper. He kept a daily journal for over 53 years. He engaged in written repartees, Olympian literary gymnastics with family and friends, including long time Peterborough friend and librarian, Bob Porter.
He was not an ordinary man. Robert Frost’s words “I had a lover’s quarrel with the world” describes the restless soul, the intimate relationships, the daily inner tensions, his ability to question and think deeply and at the same time embrace his life. His mind never rested as he explored life and the meaning of existence, to the day he died.
Ralph leaves behind 4 appreciative children, their spouses and families who live with gratitude across Canada.