Cox Enterprises announced the death Monday of Barbara Cox Anthony, the younger daughter of company founder James Cox. Barbara Cox Anthony and her surviving sister, Anne Cox Chambers, had continued family ownership of nearly all of Cox Enterprises stock, a company founded 108 years ago and now a multimedia giant in newspapers, radio, TV and cable, plus auto auctions and publications. Barbara Cox Anthony never held an executive position with Cox Enterprises, but served on its board of directors for many years. The company was headed, in succession, by her father, her brother (who died childless in 1974), her husband and, since 1988, her son. "She inspired me both personally and professionally. As we mourn my mother's passing, we will always be grateful to her for her leadership and constant support of Cox employees," said current Cox Enterprises Chairman and CEO James Cox Kennedy.
According to the company's obituary, Barbara Cox Anthony played a key role in expanding Cox Enterprises into the media giant it is today. Describing her brother, James Cox Jr., as "tight," she had to convince him to overcome his fear of debt to make some important media acquisitions back in the 1960s.
While she left the direct management of the media businesses to others, Barbara Cox Anthony was an active cattle breeder. She died in Hawaii, where she had spent much of her life overseeing all aspects of a 7,500-acre ranch. In addition to cattle, the ranch produces cut flowers and coffee beans.
RBR observation: As the Cox legacy begins to pass officially to the third generation, it is still a tight-knit family holding the reins of this media empire. James Kennedy has only one sister, Blair Parry-Okeden of Australia, and both siblings were at their mother's bedside when she died. Their aunt, who is 87, has three children. Despite being among the wealthiest people in the world, each with a fortune estimated at 12-13 billion, both sisters shunned the limelight.
"Although frequently named one of the world's wealthiest people and the co-owner of a large, highly visible company, Mrs. Anthony managed to maintain a low public profile. Never a celebrity, she shunned limousines whenever possible. She delighted in the fact that she could fly by private plane into Sydney and walk unnoticed past the gathered paparazzi who were looking for the more famous media owner, Rupert Murdoch, who used the same airport facility," the company obituary noted. Cox Enterprises has also posted a photo retrospective of Barbara Cox Anthony on its website. We particularly like the shot of her as an adventurous young woman with her race car and helmet.