Michael Fox, cofounder of Israel's largest law firm, dies at 75
'He was a vastly cultured and versatile man who could recite whole bodies of work by Shakespeare' says a friend.
Michael Fox, the cofounder of Israel's largest law firm, died on Saturday in a Jerusalem hospital, after a decade-long struggle with cancer. He was 75.
Fox founded the Herzog, Fox & Neeman law firm in Tel Aviv with late president Chaim Herzog and Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman in 1972, four years after immigrating to Israel from the United Kingdom with his wife, Sheila.
Michael Fox was born in London in 1934 and studied law at London University. He went into private practice in London before immigrating to Israel, where he handled major overseas investments in the country with his characteristic English style and poise.
Isaac Herzog, Chaim Herzog's son and a minister, worked closely with Fox at the law firm before Herzog stepped down in 2002. He says Michael Fox was for him "something between a father and a cousin" and "one of the people I love the most in this world."
Fox, who lived in Herzliya Pituach, served as chairman of IBCA, the Israel, Britain and The Commonwealth Association. In 2003 he was made a Member of the British Empire (MBE) by the Queen for services to relations between the United Kingdom and Israel.
In the last years of his life, he scaled back his involvement in law and devoted most of his time to writing and to his great love: music.
"Having stepped out of the straight-jacket of practicing law, he spent even more time reading," said Alan Sacks, a friend and partner at the 170-lawyer firm. "He was a vastly cultured and versatile man who could recite whole bodies of work by Shakespeare and volumes about classical music ¬ which didn't prevent him from enjoying Danny Kaye songs and ragtime musicals."
Michael Fox wrote a monthly column for the Haaretz English Edition. In 2007 he collected his columns into a book entitled "Mountains and Molehills: Essays 2003-2007" (Weill Publishers).
"The process of writing gave him immense satisfaction in the last years of his life," said Sheila Fox, herself a retired attorney who worked for Israel Military Industries for many years. She and her husband did not have children.
Asked whether her late husband ever considered entering politics like some of his close friends, Sheila said: "He never thought about entering politics precisely because of his friends. He was a private man."
Herzog says writing was for Michael Fox a means of spreading "his innate values of liberalism, enlightenment, sanity and love of his fellow man."
Charlotte Halle, editor of Haaretz English Edition, said: "Many readers treasured Michael's monthly offerings, which were wise and whimsical, and brimming with British humor and gentlemanliness, and Israeli straightforwardness ¬ just like Michael."
The funeral was scheduled for Sunday at 6 P.M. at Herzliya cemetery.