John Ridgeway Rockwell, 84
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June 23, 1928 - Jan. 29, 2013
KENNEBUNK BEACH -- John Ridgeway Rockwell, a businessman, died on Jan. 29, 2013, from ongoing complications from Parkinson's disease and respiratory issues, and general declining health. He was 84.
He is survived by his son and daughter-in-law, Drew and Bartlett; and his five grandchildren, Nick, Carolyn, Louisa, Mary and Will. He was predeceased by his wife of 57 years, Lorraine Rockwell; and his daughter, Nancy Rockwell, who died in a tragic hiking accident in 1982.
A boy from Wabash, Ind., who was one the finest high school basketball players in the state during the closing years of the Second World War, John received an athletic scholarship from Harvard University, where he was an All American Basketball player who led the Ivy League in scoring his senior year. He graduated with honors in 1950 as an economics major and received his MBA from the Harvard Business School in 1952, where he was deeply influenced by the brilliant marketing professor Ted Leavitt, with whom he informally collaborated for many years.
He married his wife, Lorraine on a snowy Dec. 23, in New York City, and spent the first two years of his marriage as a private in the U.S. Army, stationed in Fort Riley, Kan.
His long and successful business career began in 1955 for a Madison Avenue advertising agency, Needham, Harper and Steers, and he became President in his early thirties before founding his own agency, John Rockwell and Associates, based in New York City. After many years in advertising, both building brands and helping to create new products and categories, he moved on to Booz, Allen and Hamilton, where he ultimately led their Marketing Practice until he 'retired' in 1999. He was active on numerous boards during his career, including Booz, Allen and Hamilton, Narragansett Capital Corporation, Advo, The Foxboro Company, Forum Corporation and Tom's of Maine, among others.
A true partner for great entrepreneurs, he helped many companies experience growth ,
through strategic innovation. He loved businesses -- building themnurturing them, pushing them to innovate and grow, and through his long career and on-going Board work, he deeply valued the relationships and friendships that sprouted from them. Until the last week of his life, he was constantly involved in 'projects' to help people reposition companies and non-profits, create new products and offers, articulate and reinforce their values, and animate those values in everything they did.
A devoted husband, a proud and supportive father and grandfather, he was also a great philanthropist. In particular, he used his daughter Nancy's tragic death as a catalyst to help fulfill her life vision to provide youth in need with a 'second chance.' He established a significant Rockwell Scholarship at Philips Academy, Andover, and worked for over 30 years to assist the school in raising funds from non-traditional donors for non-traditional kids. Many deserving youth were beneficiaries of his generosity and the generosity of his friends.
In the last years of his life, as his physical health progressively failed, he was supported by a remarkable and diverse group of caregivers, who together with John, made a wonderful small community in his beloved Maine home, a community of giving, sharing, nurturing, learning and laughter that brought him great joy and new insights into every corner of his life. He was a worker and contributor until his final days, with a fierce desire to be productive and to give back. He will be deeply missed by his family and friends, and indeed from the broader world, which benefitted in many ways from his indomitable and generous spirit.
To continue his fine work,
the family would be deeply honored by contributions to the Trustees of Phillips Academy/Nancy G.
Rockwell Scholarship Fund
at the Office of
180 Main St.
Andover, Massachusetts 01810
Published in Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram on Feb. 2, 2013