Tributes paid to Norwich artist and successful advertising agency owner

Keith Fox, who upon his retirement began an equally successful career as an artist has died aged 78.

Keith Fox, who upon his retirement began an equally successful career as an artist has died aged 78. Picture: Keith Fox - Credit: Archant

The man behind some of Norfolk’s most successful advertising agencies, Keith Fox, who upon his retirement began an equally successful career as an artist has died aged 78.

Keith Fox, in his studio, Mr Fox has died aged 78. Picture: Keith Fox

Keith Fox, in his studio, Mr Fox has died aged 78. Picture: Keith Fox - Credit: Archant

Mr Fox showed a talent for art from a young age, this coupled with a keen commercial sense enabled him to play an influential role in Norfolk’s advertising community for almost 40-years and inspire both his sons to follow in his footsteps.

Born in Norwich in 1942, he attended Catton Grove Junior School followed by the Alderman Jex School and Norwich Junior Art School at the age of 13.

At 15, he left school to take up a job in the commercial art studio at Curls department store - now Debenhams - and it was there in 1960, where he met his future wife, Pat.

Recalling the moment she first set eyes on Mr Fox, Pat Fox, 79, said: “He walked past the window I was dressing, and I fell in love with him there and then.

Portrait of Shirley, by Keith Fox. Picture: Keith Fox

Portrait of Shirley, by Keith Fox. Picture: Keith Fox - Credit: Archant


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“We started to date and within two years we were married. It was love at first sight. We were married 58 years and they were the happiest years, I’m devastated he’s gone,” she said.

In the same decade, Mr Fox joined forces with his brothers, Owen, Chester and Stephen, to set up the print and design company, BD Studios.

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After some busy and successful years the brothers decided to go their separate ways and Mr Fox, along with partners Albert Cooper and Ken Smith set up the advertising agency APFP.

In the 1970s, this became Adforce, with Mr Fox at the helm, the business flourished took on clients such as Norwich Union, Bartrums and Norwich & Peterborough Building Society and grew to employ more than 40 people.

Two pigeons, by Kieth Fox. Picture: Keith Fox

Two pigeons, by Kieth Fox. Picture: Keith Fox - Credit: Archant

The company’s success continued throughout the 1980s and in the 1990s it merged with another agency to form Fox Murphy.

Mr Fox retired from advertising in 2002.

But it was not a quiet retirement, he took the opportunity to pick up his paintbrush again and return to his artistic roots, emerging as a successful and talented portrait painter.

Within a couple of years of returning to painting he was receiving commissions including from the then Sheriff of Norwich Paul R King.

Keith Fox's portrait of the former Sheriff of Norwich, Paul R King. Picture: Keith Fox

Keith Fox's portrait of the former Sheriff of Norwich, Paul R King. Picture: Keith Fox - Credit: Archant

He joined the Norfolk Contemporary Art Society and in 2014 won the group’s Adnams Prize, the same year he was elected to the Norwich 20 Group.

Mrs Fox said: “[Keith] retired and he did all these wonderful paintings, our house is full of paintings. He was prolific,

“As a father, he adored his children he did everything for them, he absolutely adored them and his sons were very, close to him.

“He was an avid reader, he was like a sponge, he just wanted to soak up all the knowledge, he wanted to learn as he did when he was at school.

A portrait of Ian Fox, painted by his father Keith Fox who has died aged 78. Picture: The Fox Family

A portrait of Ian Fox, painted by his father Keith Fox who has died aged 78. Picture: The Fox Family - Credit: Archant

“He loved people and he was a wonderful husband, he always made sure everything was alright for me and supported me in everything I did. He was my rock.”

Ian Fox, one of Mr Fox’s sons, who along with his brother Jonathan followed his father into advertising, said: “He was a loving father to me and my brother, one thing [I’ll remember about him] will be his sense of humour. “There are so many wonderful memories, there was so much laughter as a family, and wonderful holidays together.

“His total care and love for his family was second to none.”

Mr Fox said it was his father’s love of his work which encouraged him to follow in his footsteps; “It was his enthusiasm and love of the business, that got me into advertising. I worked there for a summer break and I absolutely loved it and I’ve been there 36-years.”

A portrait of Jonathan Fox, painted by his father, Keith Fox who has died age 78. Picture: The Fox f

A portrait of Jonathan Fox, painted by his father, Keith Fox who has died age 78. Picture: The Fox family - Credit: Archant

• Keith Fox, died on Friday, April 24, after suffering from cancer. He is survived by his wife Pat, and two sons, Ian and Jonathan.

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