Prof. Rodney Fitch CBE 1938-2014

It is with a heavy heart that the Fitch family bring the sad news that Father, Grandfather and Husband, Rodney Fitch passed away on the morning of the 20th October 2014.

His cancer returned in April this year and although he fought valiantly against this horrible disease, it took its hold very quickly and his health deteriorated very rapidly in the last couple of weeks.

Rodney spent his last few weeks at his beautiful house in Wiltshire and passed away in the early hours of this morning peacefully surrounded by all his loving family.

Messages of condolence can be left below or using the contact page, please feel free to pass this sad news on to other people.

Rodney’s ashes will be buried at St Michaels’ Aldbourne after a small funeral. We plan to hold a celebration of his life in London in early 2015 which we will update you on later.

Rodney made a request for no wreaths. In lieu of flowers, we suggest anyone wishing to do so can make a donation in his memory to either Cancer Research [http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/support-us/donate/donate-money] or  Prospect Hospice Savernake Appeal [http://www.prospect-hospice.net/Supporter/Savernake-Appeal] to help support the good work of the hospice who were of great support to Rodney and us in his final days.

With kind regards,
Janet, Polly, Emily, Louisa, Tessa, Edward and his nine Grandchildren

 

24 Oct update: Event remembering Rodney Fitch

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    1. Roger Springall

      My middle daughter telephoned to ask if it was the Rodney Fitch that I knew whose Obit she had just read, sadly it proved to be so..

      Our paths crossed when we were both aged fourteen and starting our new school. With similar outlooks we became friends competing to save money for new ice boots. We ultimately became owners of Canadian Fagan boots with CCM blades, the best. Our dream then was to skate down the St Lawrence River and possibly be discovered by a scout from Wembley Lions Ice Hockey team.

      At school there were four teachers who became key to our futures. They were Dan Dury science, Nobby Clarke technical drawing, Mr Clitheroe maths/geology, and little Ted May the very non conforming socialist, chain smoker and art master. I believe that neither of us appreciated the effect this group would have on our futures. In the final year school prefects were allowed to wear navy blue blazers rather than the school colour which was maroon. Rodney, not a prefect, chose to wear something different, a rather nice sharp maroon velvet jacket. His dress sense was never challenged by those in charge.

      In later working life our pathways were frequently close but never to coincide. I was aware of his appointment as Professor at Delft University and fully intended to make contact. Alas it is now too late but the lesson has been learnt. The 1938 “Curly” vintage proved to be “Grand cru”

      Roger Springall

  4. David Legg

    Having just returned to the UK I was saddened to learn of Rodney’s passing.

    I first met Rodney at the time of the original buy out. I was something from the City who wore a suit and had failed O level art yet I was immediately welcomed and introduced to the unique Fitch culture which Rodney had created. He taught me the critical importance of design in the commercial world and by his enthusiasm how to sell it to a sometimes sceptical market. In my business career I have been involved with many companies both in the U.S. and Europe and of all the people I met Rodney was without doubt the stand out inspirational leader. Above all else however I am honoured that Rodney treated me as a friend.

    Maureen and I send our heartfelt condolences to Janet and her family.

  5. Andrew Campbell

    I am very sad to hear the sad news. I only saw Rodney in one of his favourite restaurants L,Escargot in September. I was with. Fergus Henderson who had only recently lost his father and it cannot be under estimated the likes of Fitch, Henderson, Conran had on our lIves. …certainly mine. My thoughts are with Janet and the family. I like to think he is re designing the floor above

  6. Pat Beckham

    I would like to thank Rodney for allowing me to spend three years working for him at Hanway Place in the very early 80’s and learning so much from all the great people working around me. Some of those people have written in this blog and some I am still very close to, including my wife!!
    I only bumped into him a few times but when I did, he was always very polite, very gracious and quick to share a cricket joke with me. I can honestly say it was the best job, and most enjoyable working environment I have ever had in my life and for that I will be eternally grateful to the great man. You will be missed by everyone who had the privilege to know you and work for you. “Shine on you crazy diamond”.

  7. Peta Waddington

    It was the happiest of accidents that landed me a job, fresh and clueless from college, at Fitch & Co. Could there have been a more vibrant and inspiring place to do an ‘apprenticeship’ than 4-6 Soho Square in the middle of the 1980s? All the most important and useful things I learnt there – amongst the talented and exciting people that immediately became a new family. I’ve counted my blessings ever since and am so grateful to Rodney for believing in us youngsters back then and giving us a go. What a blooming leg-up that was.
    To his lovely (actual) family…thank you for sharing him with us. He was very, very cool, very clever, very kind and I owe him a great deal.
    RIP RF.

  8. David Rivett

    Just got back from France to be told of Rodney’s death. I can only echo earlier messages. For me Rodney was always an almost supernatural force of energy and creativity who was also supremely human and intelligent, the best possible exemplar of a designer who refused to be put in that box labelled modest ambitions and modest rewards. In our glory days in Soho square we all really did believe in design’s power to change the world.
    My sincerest condolences to all the family he loved so much.

  9. Clare Stamp

    Rodney, I was so very fortunate to work for you. The ’80’s were golden years! My experience on student placement at Hanway Place really did change the course my life would take. I still love Retail Design. Thanks for that. My thoughts are with your family. RIP.

  10. John Sanders

    I am truly saddened by Rodney’s passing, Ed and I know I am not alone in this in Aldbourne CC or the many other organisations, societies and seats of learning that he was involved with around the world. Please accept my deepest sympathy and convey this to Janet and your sisters.

    As President, Rodney was a tremendous figurehead for the club and a great supporter and enthusiast. I have many happy memories of playing alongside Rodney. I remember not only his capability with the bat but also his fielding at slip and his bowling, particularly when I dropped a catch off him. He was not very happy about it but he wasn’t to know that I hadn’t singled him out and that I would go on to displease many more bowlers with my lacklustre fielding over the years.

    Not only was he a pioneer tourist for Aldbourne but also a great supporter of the tours, coming as he did to umpire on two occasions. The barbecues he held for the club, with great support from you and your sisters, and his Auction dinners were legendary.

    I know how much he enjoyed playing for and catching up on the news of ACC’s exploits on the field. I am so pleased we were able to resume the fixture against the Rodney Royals in September in Chiswick – a game he encouraged us to play and I know he enjoyed despite his misfortune on the day.

    Rodney had many friends in ACC who will be greatly moved by his sudden demise and who will be taking the time in the coming days to remember the wonderful man and great friend he truly was.

    You and your family will be uppermost in our thoughts

  11. Abigail Åland (Cowan)

    There are many great thinkers in this world whom have been and gone. Yet not many are doers and teachers, Rodney was. I can’t thank him enough for the time he gave me I hope one day I can only do half as much as him. He will be and is missed.

  12. Anthony Sharp

    Dear Edward and Fitch Family,

    As Edward knows I only knew your family by living alongside you in our block of flats in Oxford Street. My father John now sadly gone too – knew Rodney well. Edward I met your father on only a few occasions during the end of our long term in Oxford Street – he was a Gentlemen and I very much enjoyed our lunches and coffees together – the advice he gave was spot on. And I regret that I didn’t get to spend more time with him and get to know him better.

    Warmest regards,

    Anthony

  13. Alan Powell

    Thank you Rodney for very happy times working on the ground floor in Soho Square, listening to Abba and learning about retail.

    My condolences to all the family.

  14. nigel stone

    such sad news …… it was so special to so many of us to grow up in the university of fitch …… wonderful memories of those exciting times and the opportunities we were generously given …….. love to janet and the family at this difficult time

  15. Alison Houghton

    I was so fortunate to spend 13 remarkable years in Hanway Place and Crinan Street having starting as a rookie on work placement in 1983, and continue to be so proud to say I worked at Fitch & Co.
    Rodney will be sorely missed by so many – especially thinking of Janet your family at this sad time x

  16. John and Tessa Hallett

    We are very sad that Rodney has died.
    He achieved so much, changing so much for the better in the process.
    We had the pleasure of being (a small) part of it in the 80s.
    For the inspiring example and the experience of working with you and colleagues at Hanway Place and Soho Square, thank you Rodney.

    John and Tessa

  17. Christian Sutton

    Very sad news. Rodney was always such a lovely man to talk to and clearly an inspiration to many. It’s always a pleasure to play for his cricket team and look forward to continuing to do so more in the future in memory of Rodney.

    My deep condolences go to all the family.

    Rest in peace.

  18. Phil Chung

    Wonderful memories . . .
    I have a copy of a John Thirsk illustration of Hanway Place above my desk which is a constant reminder of the great times we had working for Rodney.
    He had this wonderful ability to wander into the studio, moments before a big presentation, browse the work before helping to make the presentation. I’m sure many of the clients actually thought that Rodney had spent the night working alongside the design team putting the whole show together!
    Spotting some of the names of people leaving comments just illustrates the many design groups he spawned and the many generations of designers he inspired.
    Thank you for trusting me to run one of your creative teams and giving me the confidence start my own design business.

  19. Paula Allibone (Nee Weeks)

    Condolences to the family. The 80’s at Soho Sq and Carlisle St not to mention many Friday nights in the Star Bar really made us feel part of the ‘Fitch Family’. Its amazing how much one man has shaped so many careers. With thanks.

  20. Richard Woolf

    It is testament to Rodney that he is being remembered with such warmth and affection . Our time at Hanway Place in the 80’s was a very special moment for British design . Everyone I’ve spoken too has reflected on how important Rodney was to our creative lives . I was privileged to be invited to the reunions which reinforced the legacy he has created in the people he inspired.

    Sadly missed.

  21. john Tusa

    Our paths at the University of the Arts London crossed only briefly but Rodney made himself available to talk of what the University was, what it had become, what it could be and its place in the great world of design . Rodney struck me as fantastically open, curious, inventive and fun. I wish we had met more. I wish he had had more time for himself, his family, his creativity in short more time for us. But how much he gave, thought and achieved. For that, thanks.

  22. Dominic Stone

    My deepest sympathies to Rodney’s family. For half my lifetime, he was a generous, optimistic and energetic friend.
    I joined Fitch in 1989, straight from the RCA, where I had benefited from the bursary he provided. Before long, I was helping him with speech writing, and occasional press articles. We would get together to create an outline, and, after a usually much-longer-than-planned duration, emerge with a hypothesis that had been subjected to the most rigorous scrutiny. He took great delight in debate, and simply would not accept clichéd responses and lazy thinking; to this day, I miss his cheerful and mischievous contrarianism in those meetings.
    I bumped into him from time to time after leaving Fitch PLC, most recently because of his active involvement in design education, and each time I was struck by his enthusiasm for life, work and friendships – he simply never seemed to slow down.
    Reading through the names on the condolences below, reminds me just how central Rodney was to the emergence of design as a real, grown-up, responsible profession. Rodney – and the companies he created – was a magnet for energy and talent in the design industry, in a way I don’t think we will ever see again. It’s great to see some names from my past here, and a great pity that it has taken Rodney’s passing to remind me personally of his tremendous impact, on not just my own personal development, but that of so many others.

  23. Jules Hewitt

    So very sad to hear about the death of Rodney. I started my career a Fitch in the 80’s. It was a fabulous and truly inspirational place to work. Rodney was an inspiration. He will be greatly missed…

  24. Lucy

    I was saddened to hear the news from the Savile last week that Rodney has left us. Remembering him has given me an opportunity to reminisce, like my fellow cohorts, and to pay tribute to the memory of the man and the company he created.

    I was a fledging when I started as a secretary in Newman Street in 1982 and as my role evolved over time so it coincided with the many significant developments that followed such was the demand for Fitch’s expertise.

    Fitch provided a wonderful environment in which to work and such was the ethos of the place that even those on the support side, like myself, couldn’t fail to appreciate the pioneering work that Rodney inspired with so many talented people wanting to work there. I knew nothing about design but soon learnt its relevance and when I left Soho Square for pastures new in 1986, nowhere seemed as vibrant or as innovative, nor had such camaraderie and style.

    Rodney and Janet were wonderfully generous hosts, inviting the large troop that we numbered in those days, plus families, down to their Wiltshire home for an annual Midsummer Garden Party. You’d be forgiven for thinking you had stumbled upon a film set, such was the setting and entertainment for a bucolic summer’s day, but for the lack of director’s “Cut!” that never came. One year the theme was ‘Caribbean’ with a steel band playing against a backdrop of roses and, I think, some limbo dancing…

    Perhaps my best memory of Rodney is encapsulated in a photograph taken at the Christmas party in 1985. Rodney is looking dapper in white dinner jacket and lamé bow tie and with his evident joie de vivre; he was thanking me and asking about how we got the venue. I was always a bit in awe of him so to see his obvious enjoyment and earn his approval and appreciation mattered hugely.

    It’s like the felling of a big oak, the landscape of design won’t be the same without Rodney, but with his family and life’s work and the many Fitch saplings out there, he leaves a bountiful legacy.

    My warmest condolences to Janet and all the family.

  25. Jesse Torres

    It was a great pleasure to have worked for Rodney in the 80’s. He was a true inspiration and a really nice guy.
    My condolences to his family.

  26. David Stanton

    I worked for Rodney in the 1980’s for only two years but never forgot him. The period of time I spent at Fitch & Co. had a huge impact on me due to Rodney’s charisma, the amazing team of people he attracted to work with him and the fantastic summer parties at his home in Wiltshire.

    My condolences to his family.

  27. PJ Statham

    A delightful, insightful and thoughtful man who will be sorely missed. He provided wise counsel to so many.
    Condolences to all of Rodney’s family from all of us at Momentum.

  28. Mary Butler

    Rodney was a good friend of my late husband, Nick Butler, and we greatly enjoyed his company whether it be working together, or leisure time at our seaside home, or happy days at Lords watching cricket. I will miss him very much. He was totally devoted to his family and I send them my deepest sympathy and condolences.

  29. Steve Slemmings

    I don’t need to say what Rodney did or what he was like. Everyone reading or writing on this site knows that. What speaks volumes is the deep sadness I feel for the passing of someone I had hardly seen since my days at Hanway Place from 1973 to 1984. I bumped into him at Terminal 4 around 2000 and and we chatted just as if I still worked for him.

    The reunion in 2009 was so, so special.

    I hope Rodney’s family can take some comfort that a little part of the warmth that his flame passed on, still glows in all of us. fortunate to have worked with him. I’m just so sad he can’t read this.

  30. Conny Matze

    My condoleances to Rodney’s family for this great loss. Especially Louisa and Emily whom I met.

    I am also fortunate to met Rodney in the Netherlands where he came often for his work at the TU Delft.
    Thanks Rodney for you confidence to let me drive you around where ever you had to go. I became your private driver. Thanks for the wonderful conversations we had during our rides.
    I was looking forward to your visits to Delft again, as planned, when you where cured.
    The last semester we talked a lot about life and death, your religion and my spiritual look at it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and let me look into your heart. It were precious moments.
    Rest in peace and for me I will say: we will meet again.
    Warm greetings from Conny Matze

  31. Lisa Morales Cook

    What Rodney did so well was to make the world more intimate and more communal through design. During my years working with him, our five continents and countless cities of clients, colleagues, and brands morphed into one lovely, inspirational land in which design makes life better for all.

  32. Callum

    Rodney was my hero as well as a great friend and mentor. His legacy to the world of design is immeasurable and unprecedented.
    I will miss him and so will everybody who had the honour of knowing him.
    My thoughts are with all of his family who I know he treasured and loved.

  33. Jane Montague

    Our sincere condolences to the Fitch Family. Rodney and my father, George Montague, worked together in the early 60’s and 70’s at Conran and then at Fitch. I still have a letter from Rodney congratulating me for winning a competition to design at shop back in 1974 when I was 14. I spoken to Rodney in June 2012 to let him know that George had lost his fight with cancer and he told me then he wasn’t very well. I think George and Rodney were very similar and had the most amazing ‘debates’ at times and I hope that they are now putting the world to rights together again.

  34. Michael Howard

    I remember it as if it were yesterday. December, 1966, when Rodney interviewed me in that strange little office at the end of the first floor studio in Hanway Place. He gave me the opportunity to join the group and, over the next twenty three years, I worked alongside him as he navigated the Fitch Design business into the leading, global brand that is so admired today. An amazing achievement, hitherto unsurpassed. He leaves a proud legacy to his family.

  35. Bob BarnettA very sad

    A very sad time, Rodney and I worked together in the late 70’s early 80’s on many projects including Terminal 4 and BP’s new HQ in London. I admired his skill and intellect and mainly his very relaxed way of dealing with our clients. He will be missed greatly by the design world and his colleagues.
    I send my sympathies to all of his family.

  36. Charlie Dunnett

    What sad news. We will all remember him for his kindness and humour but mostly for the greatest generosity, which was to give us all the belief and the platform to design all sorts of wonderful projects years before anyone else in the design business would have. At Crinan Street, he proved himself to be the best client that we ever had and then, wonderfully, we had the cricket. A great man who we will not forget. Please accept our condolences.

  37. Sarup Chowdhary

    Rodney was a wonderful man & no words can express the kind of loving bond he had with his business associates & friends in India . I will greatly miss him & the interesting conversations I used to have with him on retail design & very passionately on cricket .

    My condolences to all his family .

  38. Simon Scott-Taylor

    Such a fantastic, fabulous design champion that I am privileged to have met and known, he launched a thousand careers and gave us all some wonderful, special memories along the way. Goodbye Rodney, thank you for everything – I wish we could have had just one last game of cricket! x

  39. Rajmohan Aiyaswamy

    Rodney,
    It was wonderful working with you and your team in the year’s 2007-8. You have been a great inspiration to the design fraternity . This will be a big loss for each one of us and we miss you sir.

  40. Amanda Le Roux

    Wonderful, wonderful Rodney. I will miss your creativity, your humour, your feisty comments, your drive and above all your zest for life. You first came into my life through my father, Tony Rudd and then off and on for the past 40 years – particularly the last 10 when you would come to our yearly Christmas party and various family events. You came to my mother’s funeral 6 years ago and hugged me, lost for words. The last time I saw you was with my husband Philippe in his restaurant, Villandry about 3 months ago when you were clearly failing but insistant on talking about the importance of family. We will miss you.

    Amanda Le Roux

  41. Nigel French

    Rodney, you stood out like a beacon of talent, enthusiasm, inquisitiveness, humour,fun, warmth, good manners and impish behaviour. The world is very much a poorer place without you but your legacy is huge.

  42. Lara

    I am so very very sad to hear this news. I found Rodney playful and charming whilst being utterly rigourous about the business of retail… it certainly was an eye opener working with him! My sincere condolences to his family and close friends. x

  43. Ranjith Ramadasan

    Haven’t met him. Couldn’t talk to him. But I owe a large portion of learning in my life to the company he built. Thank you Sir.

  44. Pim van den Berg

    Rodney is one of the icons in my memory. So privileged I am part of his memory. His eyes were full of admiration when he saw how the fundamentals of design insights were inspired by the streetological impact in Mumbai. My ears and eyes were always so attentive when I talked and listened to him. We will pass on the passion. So we never forget.

  45. Richard Fredrickson

    I met Rodney the first season I worked for Los Caballeros; Buford sent me out on a ride with this guy from London. Just the two of us rode that day, and I remember asking if he considered himself “English,” or “British?” His answer was he was a “Brit,” and we had a most enjoyable ride together. As it happens with quite a number of our guests, Rodney and his family quickly became not so much guests, but friends. Now, with all the years that have passed, Rodney’s death leaves a big hole in all our hearts. I’m so glad he came to see us one more time last spring; I wish I could hold him to his promise of returning here next April.

    All my best to all the family–he was a great guy!

    Dick Fredrickson

  46. Douglas Smith

    I get a chill reading all of these . . . . what an amazing legacy he has left. I think back with the fondest of memories about how my career was shaped, the friends I made, and the things I have learned . . . all of which began in earnest during my time at Fitch – Columbus. The world literally and figuratively opened up to me through amazing projects and clients, travel, exposure to different cultures, and the privilege to work for such a world class organization. Too many highlights to recount but spending a very short stint in the London office and meeting Rodney was easily the best one.

    Our prayers are with the family during this difficult time.

  47. Randy Miller

    “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” Isaac Newton

    Thank you Rodney for providing such broad and steady shoulders so the rest of us might see. Rest in Peace Sir, you are missed.

  48. Lesley Hall

    Dear Janet and family,
    I was fortunate to organise a Fitch Reunion in 2009 which took place at Bertorelli in Frith Street – on 20th October of that year, so exactly 5 years before Rodney passed away. It was a memorable evening and Rodney wrote this email afterwards:

    “To the very best alumni group ever…

    Thank you all for making our dinner at Bertorelli such a happy occasion. Those jolly stories , your good humour and vivacity makes it clear why our work together was simply the best. I shall be eternally grateful that I spent such good and creative times with you( not to forget those absent friends whom we missed).
    A group of 50 cats seems herdable so what you say we do something similar in a year or two?  Meanwhile big, big thanks to Lesley, Alison and Octavia for the logistics and for doing most of the herding
    Good luck and God bless.
    Rodney”

    Sadly, we didn’t manage another one and the next time we are all together, Rodney will only be with us in spirit.

    Many other emails flooded in about those times in Hanway Place and beyond, including one from me and this is what I said at the time, and still stands:
    I think Ian Cochrane asked what the DNA of that golden era was.  Notwithstanding the magic of the man himself, I feel it was also due to being in the right place at the right time; and even perhaps the right time at the right place – everything was ‘kicking off’ in the high street and in retail design and Rodney and his team quite rightly took the lead.  I still have a copy of Marketing magazine August 1978 featuring on the front cover a photo of Rodney with the caption The Man Who Changes the Face of Cities.

    They were heady days of success, we were on the crest of a wave, which engendered talent, nurtured even more talent, camaraderie, loyalties, client entertainment (and they loved us) and lasting friendships – forged over the drawing board (not a computer in sight in those days!) and frantic late-night presentation tweaking and endorsed at the famous Friday night bars – how did our livers survive.  How many times did we pour Johanna Coulter into a black cab, before telling the driver she needed to go ‘south of the river’.  Also endorsed at the wonderful Christmas and garden parties – as dear Peter Constable said after the 2009 Reunion “The summer parties were terrific entertainment and fun and my children (now 29 & 31) still talk about them – the place, the food and drink in the marquees, the pony rides, the brass band and the cricket matches ……”.

    The name Fitch & Co became synonymous with excellence in design and many of you/us were able to trade upon the name (and your own talent of course) to move to new challenges and with the street cred for setting up your own businesses.  It was the springboard for future success and recognition.  A happily incestuous industry.   I joined in January 1978 knowing absolutely nothing about design and after 5 invigorating years and a spell with another design group I was able to set up my own PR consultancy for designers and architects.  All based on everything I learned at Fitch from a bunch of, then and still, fabulous, fun, creative people led by an extraordinary man with a huge creative talent who remained at the forefront of the industry through so many years and continued to bring people together.

    I hope Carlos Virgile won’t mind me including a quote from an email I received from him when trying to organise the (subsequently cancelled) Reunion in October 2008:  “Those years at Fitch are not that easy to forget and although sometime it feels like pre-history they were important for all of us”. And Steve Slemmings after the 2009 Reunion “We all attend gatherings that we’d rather not but last night wasn’t one of those nights. No-one could have felt like that. All of us are who we are, a little bit because of those ‘Golden Years’ we spent together”.

    Thank you dear Rodney for your enduring legacy.

  49. Octavia Bray

    I had only worked for Rodney for a few months before my brother died. He didn’t really know me well enough to say much but the first thing he said was “when people die, you think of them and remember them more than when they are alive”. Few words, but so true and straight to the point – a phrase that resonated with me and which I used as an opening for my brother’s eulogy.

    Now, here we all are……….thinking of him and remembering him so fondly…and we’ll continue to do so as he had such a huge influence on so many people’s lives. For me he was a great boss, client and mentor to work with…he consistently encouraged me to continue as a freelancer. An absolute privilege to have known…..and a friend.

    One memory that made me smile today…..after a few months of working for him he asked me if the word ‘secretary’ irked me. I hesitated to reply but he quickly said “It clearly does”. A long, funny, in-depth conversation ensued where I debated that the word secretary was old fashioned etc etc. From that day on I was always (with the occasional slippage) was referred to as his Executive Assistant or bossy boots………anything but secretary! My last working day with Rodney was just 2 weeks ago….on a phonecall he ‘almost’ called me his secretary but quickly corrected himself ‘mid word’ and smiled……..a lasting memory of a lovely man.

    There are so many more funny moments, interesting debates and conversations to reminisce about……..but that’s for another time.
    Sleep well big man………..missed so much by us all and love to all the family xx

  50. Jo Prosser

    Rodney. Lovely, lovely Rodney…. what to say, how to capture all that you were and are, to so many of us. Even a plant in the office was named after you! As Chairman of VAE, you were fairy godfather to all of us there, and especially to me, a green and naive CEO who learnt so much from you over the 10 years we worked together. Your habit of listening intently – only to reveal at the end, very politely, that you knew it all in advance! – taught me a huge amount, not only about design, and retail, and management, but about being courteous and kind and generous. You taught me, and our company, about the values that matter in making a brand successful, original, admired and loved – just like your lovely self. On arriving at my new job in New York earlier this year, the book on the shelf I found in my new office was ‘Fitch on Retail Design’. So it and you live on..! Always remembering that the thing that mattered most to you was family, your wonderful Fitch clan: you were rightly so proud of each and every one. Here’s to all of you, with thanks for sharing him all these years – with love to all.

  51. Dave Messersmith

    Dear Family:
    The ranch will never be the same now that Rodney has passed away. I considered him and all of the Fitch family dear friends.
    It was so nice to see you all this past April and I am sure that Rodney had a blast. He had such a wonderul personality and could lite up a room. He loved all of you so much. When I get to heaven, he will certainly be my doubles partner and we will win many matches together.
    My sincere condolences.
    Warm Regards,
    Dave Messersmith

  52. Ibrahim Ibrahim

    It’s been a very sad week to lose a wonderful, supportive friend. When Rodney first joined Portland we sat opposite each other and it was like going back to University! He was so generous with his knowledge, insight and experience. Up to just a few months ago he still had that child like enthusiasm for exploring ideas on design and retail. It’s that passion that I will always remember him for and I hope in years to come I will have even half of that. My deepest condolences to the all the family. Ibrahim

  53. Caroline O'Driscoll

    I am very sad to hear today of Rodney’s death. I had the privilege of working with him when he returned to Fitch for the second time in the early noughties after WPP took over. He was energetic, inspirational, curious, always interested in what was coming and never dwelling on the past. He would challenge lazy thinking and was motivated purely by a desire for excellence. He had a zest for life, spoke often about his family and was great company. I will miss him.

  54. Nick Harrison

    My memories of Rodney are mainly associated with cricket. Firstly as a team-mate and an formidable opening batsman and then latterly as a kindly benefactor. Great memories of the Aldbourne tours when Rodney would open the doors to Court House to hoardes of cricketers, some of whom he vaguely knew – a signal of the warmth of the man. I also remember our first end-of-season dinner at Rules. Rodney slipped away towards the end. We found out later he’d footed the entire bill, but had done it without any show or need for thanks. It was a quiet act of generosity, a measure of his class. I will be proud to play for the team that now bears his name, and with any luck my sons will too. RIP Rodney.

  55. Bruce Shepherd

    Very sad news and my condolences to the family.
    I had the privilege to work and travel with Rodney in the early ‘Rodney Fitch & Company’ days at Half Moon Street, with many fond memories.
    I mind one particularly awkward card exchanging ritual in a board room in the far east, with the client chairman being left confused as to “which was the famous Rodney Fitch”. I remember gesticulating towards the big fellow and proclaiming “this is the famous Mr. Fitch……………..and we just keep him company”, to which he chuckled, cleared his throat and proceeded to thoroughly charm their socks off in his inimitable way.
    He was truly inspirational company for so many of us who new and worked with him.

  56. Andy Myring

    Rodney was a gentleman in every sense of the word.
    It was a pleasure to know him, work for him and learn from him.
    He is a design “giant” and his legacy lives on.
    My thoughts are with his family.

  57. Marian Kelly

    I joined Fitch straight from college in 1980 – how lucky was I. It was a special place at a special time and Rodney was a special man – very charismatic and inspirational and always had time for everyone – including lowly graduates like me. My thoughts are with all the family.

  58. Howard Saunders

    Dearest Rodney

    I am so proud to have known you, so privileged to have worked with you and so grateful to have been inspired by you. You set the tone for a industry in its infancy: free thinking, democratic, uncynical and with people at its heart. We learned everything from you. Thank you.

  59. iris yau

    “I always felt that I had a mission in life to deliver to ordinary people better places to shop. I have little interest in Issey Miyake or haute couture design. The thing that really turns me on is working for Woolworth’s, Marks and Spencer and Boots stores – which touch everyone’s life.”

    #inspirational #noble

  60. Dawn Hesketh-Joslin

    So sad to hear that Rodney has passed away – for all of us who were lucky enough to work with him ( me at Half Moon Street and Great Portland Street ), we can look back with immense fondness to times of special friendships, brilliant adventures, amazing opportunities, and travel to far flung spaces and places, all under the guidance and care of Rodney. A truly inspirational chap. My thoughts are with his family at this time.

  61. Giles Marking

    What very sad news
    A courageous, passionate, feisty, brave, charming, cricket loving fellow. Tolerant of good ideas, intolerant of poor ones, old fashioned yet yet modern, so wonderfully English yet global. A very rare combination.
    What a privilege it was to have worked for him so so many wonderfully enjoyable years.

  62. Tom Redpath

    I had the fortune of starting my career during those happy days in Soho Square in the late 80s – Rodney was a huge inspiration and set me and, I know, many many of us on our way through this life of design. We all owe him a huge debt. So happy to hear he was at home surrounded by the love of his family. Rest peacefully now Rodney…

  63. Ken Irons

    A great friend, a great inspiration, a great help. His design for us lives on, a timeless tribute to someone who was always willing to give a hand. He will be missed.

  64. Gregg Sedgwick

    Rodney was a friend, mentor and inspiration. His belief in me and my team transformed my life. On our very first meeting, in Dubai, we discovered we were both ‘supporters’ of Swindon Town FC – probably the only two on that Continent! The relationship was sealed. When we joined Fitch, he told my team we had ‘joined the premier league’ and we would need to maintain our top four position. He had a way of motivating in a style which was simple yet brilliant. I loved our long chats and his way of remembering the smallest details of previous conversations. Whilst Rodney loved to talk about his life and experiences, he was always passionately interested in others – inquisitive about my family, my home renovation, my business….Rodney was a profound influence on my life and I was so fortunate to have shared time with him. I will miss him much. My thoughts go out to his family. He was always so full of praise and passion for each of you – you must be so so proud of such a great man.

  65. Patrick Smith

    I met Rodney in Dubai at Eurobest when he held a speech there. It was really an eye-opener for me when he said something like; “Sealing a deparment store would provide us with the best time-capsule over mankind of this specific era”. What we ate, what we wore, what we read, etc. I kept this mindblowing picture in my head and told it to others many times. RIP Mr Fitch.

    Patrick Smith

  66. Christian Schroeder

    My lasting memory of Rodney will be the regular in-depth discussions we had about wine and comparing notes on what we had bought…inevitably he had always bought something more interesting than I had (and better…). But it was the deep passion with which he spoke about wine (and design and, indeed, everything) as we consumed more of the stuff, that made him such wonderful company. I will drink a fine bottle for you Rodney!

  67. Kay Blewett

    To the professionals he was a colossus. To his family, even greater. To all the family, my heartfelt condolences at your massive loss. To the professionals, learn, live and breathe all that the Professor stood for.

  68. Henry Coelho

    A wonderful generous man ,who inspired all who worked with him to achieve excellence in everything we did .
    He created at Fitch & Co, a vibrant ,pioneering creative culture unrivalled and respected throughout the world.
    It was a privilege and a pleasure to work alongside him .
    His legacy and vision lives on through those who now because of him ,are leaders of our industry
    Thank you Rodney for all you did for me and all of us ..you will be missed but will never be forgotten.
    Rest in peace

  69. Nick Bowman

    RIP Rodney, and condolences to your family. What an inspiring man. When I started up my own PR business he took me on as his PR man and for that I will always be grateful. I would sit an listen when he was interviewed by journalists at the way he could weave a story into something totally engaging whatever the subject. A giant who cannot be replaced.

  70. Manuela Fachin

    My sincere condolences to Rodneys family. What an incredible man with an amazing passion and gentle soul. It was with great pleasure to have known him during my time at Fitch. May you rest in peace.

  71. Corinne Pringle

    I was deeply saddened to hear the news about Rodney. Like many I was privilidged to spend my formative years at Fitch & Co. We all knew we were working in a special place at a special time – so many close friendships formed and so many creative individuals spiralled into the industry.
    I was privilidged to sit next to Rodney at an industry dinner last year and whilst the years had passed I was not surprised by his neverending enthusiasm for each individual and his genuine interest in people and their thoughts on design.
    Thank you Rodney for the best start anyone could wish for. We are all better for knowing you a little,
    Fondest wishes to your family at this time,
    You will live in all our hearts,
    Corinne

  72. Susan Robinson

    Susan Robinson
    God bless you Rodney. It was a privilege to know you and honour to work with you at FITCH. Thanks for believing in me, for sponsoring my MA at the RCA / V&A & for giving me my first ‘break’ working with all your talented (and gorgeous) designers at Soho Square & for all the fun we all had there. You may be out of sight but your influence will be seen clearly in many designer’s work & hearts for a very long time. You really gave us all the opportunity to have ‘A Wonderful Life’. Thank-you & Rest easy Big Man.

  73. Jon Baars

    Very happy memories of working at Half Moon Street and Great Portland Street, working for Rodney and a fantastically talented bunch of people which speaks volumes for his influence, will always remember your warmth and charisma. Thoughts with family will be much missed.

  74. Claudia Neri

    I’ve had the good fortune of meeting Rodney at the Cannes Lions and later at Dubai Lynx where he was chairman of the design Jury.
    Just talking to him over breakfast before the jury began made one feel inspired. And challenged, at the same time.
    Over and above being incredibly knowleadgeable and a powehouse he was generous, very entertaining and with an unusal capacity for empathy.
    His death is a great loss for the design profession and for those lucky enough to have known him

  75. George Foster

    Rodney was an inspirational man, and a pleasure to know. I have the honour of captaining the cricket team that bears his name, and even though wins are a rare commodity, Rodney’s support was unerringly positive and meant a lot to the team. You will be missed – we’ll try and win a few more next year in your memory.

    RIP

  76. Richard

    We always raised an affectionate and reverent glass to him at the annual cricket dinner. Perhaps in future we should lay an empty Founder’s place. Much missed and long celebrated in any case.

  77. Simon Hamilton

    Working for Fitch, even for such a short time, was a great experience which I remember fondly. The energy and excitement was something special. Thank you for giving the world such delight. Sincerest condolences to all his family and close friends.

  78. Neil Whitehead

    Very sad news having spent many years working with Rodney it goes to say that his vision and belief in providing a better world for the everyman inspired a whole generation of designers and Architects. I have many fond memories of travelling playing cricket and having healthy debates about the world we live in, i will always cherish those times.
    Well done Rodney for influencing the world we live in and we/I will endeavour to continue the good standards you set . God Bless

  79. Catherine Nickson

    Hanway Place, Soho Square, Crinan Street, Half Moon Street and finally Great Portland Street….I was honored to be a part of each chapter. I learnt so much and grew up with you. Your knowledge, experience, charisma and wonderful hand written letters. The list of names here speaks for itself. What a heritage. To use your words…..

    “warmest regards, Rodney”

  80. Shan Preddy

    The British design industry will be a poorer place without Rodney’s guiding light to shine out and show the way. He was one of the giants who helped to build us into the powerful entity we are today, the envy of many other design communities around the world. Sincere condolences to Rodney’s family and friends at this time of great sadness and loss.

  81. Emma Booty

    His influence has been felt by so many of us and we owe him so much. I never met Rodney but what a privilege it’s been for me knowing of him and his big design heart. Sincere condolences.

  82. Nigel Carrington

    As a Governor of University of the Arts London for many years, Rodney was an inspirational force in the life of the University and a true friend of many Governors and staff. I am sending our condolences on behalf of his very many friends here at UAL.

  83. George Delaney

    I met with Rodney to assist with his personal affairs. Despite being the one who was there to impart their knowledge I always left our meetings a wiser man. R.I.P Rodney- great to have known you.

  84. Leigh Cain

    I joined Fitch + Co in 1983, it was my first real job as an Interior Designer, and my first project was Terminal 4 at LHR. Rodney did this thing called MBWA; Management by walking around, I’m not sure who coined the phrase but it certainly worked in a company of over 200 people. I remember my first meeting Rodney as he approached my drawing board and he took an interest in a detail I was drawing, suggesting an alternative way of designing it (I fail to remember what) and being fresh from Uni and knowing everything, decided he couldn’t possibly be right. Of course he was. Another time during a client presentation in the boardroom, with Rodney conducting, a heavy sample fell off the wall. Having made up the board, I was mortified, naively believing it would make or break the client relationship. He was very kind about it (it was fine) but I have never forgotten to fix samples properly.
    Fitch + Co was an institution, and you were honoured to work there.
    Rodney was a guru, a pioneer in design, a warm and generous man. When I met him in a design meeting twenty years later when I rejoined Fitch for a brief time in Gt Portland St, he said he recognised me (why would he, I was a young unknown), ‘but you’ve done something different to your hair’. I smiled, the charm was still evident. Bless him, he is in our design DNA and psyche, he will be so badly missed, and I’m so sorry for your loss.
    With kindest regards,
    Leigh

  85. Simon Jackson

    My own Father died yesterday- therefore with Rodney passing away I lost two big influences in my own life on the same day. My time at Hanway Place and Carlisle Street will never be forgotten, not only for the inspiration I got being with Fitch & Co and the impact on my career development generally but Rodney had a talent for gathering very smart, creative, talented and fun people around him- many of whom I still keep in close contact with……including my wife!
    I’ll remember Rodney as an infectious and inspiring individual but also a great bloke and great company. It is a privilege to have known Rodney Fitch.
    My sincere condolences to Janet and rest of the family.

    1. Hazel Marsh

      Simon – I agree with all your sentiments on Rodney and am so very sorry to hear of the passing of your Father, may he rest in peace and my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this sad time.

  86. Linda Mitchell (Skelton)

    Rodney called the 80’s his “Golden Years” and l was privileged enough to have shared them with him. Rodney was an inspiring and Creative Master of Retail Design and it is with deep sorrow we now have to say goodbye to this special man.

    His memory and all that he stood for, will live on with so many.

  87. Gordon Simmonds

    For many years I studied Rodney’s work . He was an inspirational designer – his work motivated me to want to be a better designer .I bought all of his books and learned over many years through his publications . I am very sad to hear of his passing away – He was a great designer that touched people from every corner of the globe . He was a person that changed the way people think and he will be greatly missed . RIP Rodney Fitch .

    Gordon Simmonds .
    ID Solutions
    Australia .

  88. Scott Allan

    In the midst of recession, you gave me my first job.

    For that opportunity I have always been truly grateful.

    The legacy you have left will live on.

  89. Eddie McAtominey

    A major inspiration ..I loved my time at Fitch back in the eighties.
    It has been great to see him in recent years as a respected part of
    the current design landscape.
    A sad miss and one of the real design greats

  90. Brendan Martin

    Dear Janet, Polly, Emily, Louisa , Emily, and Edward,
    Am so very sad to hear about Rodney, and send lots of love to you all at this difficult time. I hope, in time you will draw strength and comfort from the love and admiration so many people had for Rodney, and remember him with joy as we do. What a difference he made, what style he had. And what a time we had when we were with him. We will raise a glass to him today and toast the passing of a really lovely man and a very dear friend.

    Brendan & Simon

    1. Jane Platford

      Condolences to Janet and family

      Many memories of the time Kathryn and I were working for Rodney in Soho Square and Kings Cross – and so sorry to hear he has left us.-
      The warm wishes and tributes will hopefully be a comfort to you all.

      Love Jane Platford

  91. Michael Bissett-Powell

    I worked with Rodney way back in the early sixties, at Hanway Place. We texted each other only a few months ago and we promised to meet each other for a drink. Sadly, not to be…. I’ll never forget you. My sympathy to Rodney’s family.

  92. Carlos Virgile

    Very sad news, both professionally, for what he brought to the industry, and at a very personal level, for the impact he had in my life.
    A moment in time during the 80’s that marked everyone that worked at Fitch & Co.
    Thinking of Janet and the family.

  93. Richard Seymour

    Although we only worked together once, briefly, I was struck by his confident grasp of the complex and his clear perception of the roads forward for design in the 20th & 21st Century. Another giant passes on, leaving an indelible legacy. Farewell Rodney.

  94. Tim Greenhalgh

    There was never a dull moment working with you – you are a shining light and I am going to miss you deeply.
    Heartfelt condolences to your family.

    Rest in peace Rodney

  95. John Regan

    Sincere condolences to the FITCH family. Honoured to be working under the FITCH name today and to be a part of something that Rodney created all those years ago.

  96. Terry Waterhouse

    From the first time I read Rodney’s & Lance Knobel book Retail Design in 1990 I wanted to work with Rodney Fitch and believe it or not my dream came true when I first met Rodney in Hong Kong in 1998 and we ended up traveling to Manila together to attend a new business meeting and present a proposal. Subsequently having secured the project Rodney wrote me a hand written employment contract to become his MD for Rodney Fitch Asia, which he wrote in the early hours of the morning, slipped the contract under my hotel room door, before flying back to London on an early morning flight. Rodney was a true inspiration capturing many hearts, minds and their immigration with his passion for life, design, retail and later on in life with teaching. He was great raconteur and entertained everyone he meet. Rodney will be sadly missed by many people as he left a huge impression on all of us who had the privilege to work with and to get know the true Rodney Fitch. Condolances to all family & friends we will miss him.

    1. Terry Waterhouse

      Rodney was a true inspiration capturing many hearts, minds and their immigration with his passion for life, design, retail and later on in life with teaching. He was great raconteur and entertained everyone he meet. Rodney will be sadly missed by many people as he left a huge impression on all of us who had the privilege to work with and to get know the true Rodney Fitch. Condolances to all family & friends we will miss him.

    2. Terry Waterhouse

      Rodney will be sadly missed by many people as he left a huge impression on all of us who had the privilege to work with and to get know the true Rodney Fitch. Condolences to all family & friends we will miss him.

  97. Hazel Marsh

    I will never forget Rodney’s pride at all the fledglings he cast out to have successful businesses – me being one of them. My success is as a result of the chance he gave me, his inspiration and ability to coach in such a personable way. He will always be in my heart – my sincere condolences to his lovely family.
    Hazel Marsh

  98. Tracey Overman

    I was so shocked and saddened to hear the news that Rodney has passed away. He was such a special, inspirational, kind hearted, generous family man who loved his children dearly. He will be sorely missed. A very sad day.

    Sending my love and huge condolences to his family. xx

    Tracey Overman

  99. Henri Christiaans

    I am deeply saddened to hear of Rodney’s death. Such a loss for all of us.
    My condolences to his family and friends.

  100. Habib Beaini

    It is very sad.

    Rodney was an inspirational leader and a friend.

    Though I knew him for only a few years, I will never forget him.

    My deepest condolences to the family.

  101. Habib Beaini

    It is very sad.

    Rodney was an inspirational leader and a friend.

    Though I knew him for only a few years, I will never forget him. His wisdom and kindness are inspirational.

    My deepest condolences to the family.

  102. Ian Bellhouse

    A great friend and mentor, he remains an inspiration to us all…

    My sincere condolences to the FITCH family.

    Rest well Rodney.

  103. Majdoleen Till

    I am very fortunate as I was given the chance to work with and be inspired by Rodney.
    He left a great legacy behind and the design industry around the world will always be in debt for him
    RIP

  104. Chris Dingcong

    Rodney left a great impression on me as a designer and as an individual. The design world just lost a great designer. He will be greatly missed.

  105. William

    Thank you Rodney for the memorable years I worked under your leadership. You were truly inspiring and a great person.

    R.I.P Rodney, you will always be remembered. The design world has lost a great pioneer.
    Condolences to your family.

  106. Shaun Myles

    I am shocked and saddened by news of Rodney’s passing.
    I had opportunity to met and interview Rodney, it was clear he was a great person
    as well as design guru. Again, a sad day!

  107. Dan O'Leary

    Very sad news; my condolences to the Fitch family.

    I was fortunate to work for Rodney at RF & Co. for a couple of years in the late nineties; my first job out of college. That short time taught me so much in a very formative period, but it also provided a fantastic group of people to learn from and hangout with. It was a great time with a ton of happy memories.

    RIP Rodney.

  108. Peter Shillingford

    Sad news…I was looking forward to our yearly lunch at the Savile…we were at college together in the 50’s…he was always way ahead in fashion…the floral ties were decades ahead of all the experts…a gentleman in every aspect and a pleasure to hang out with.

    Commiserations to his family and friends.

    He will be missed…I am still angry.

    Please let me know his memorial date.

    Shillingford

  109. Martin Kemp

    sad news, the loss of a gentleman and a man who was a pleasure to work for.

    we all had such nice days with him, it’s the end of an era when his like go – never to be replaced. I smile thinking of how we laughed at his regularly wrongly addressed letters, such as those to ‘Rod-Net-Fish’ and ‘Rodina Finch’.

    so many of us so much to Rodney, we cut our design teeth with you, learned the trade and learned how to behave. I salute you.

  110. Simon Fleming

    A truly remarkable man. He offered insight with such blinding clarity, coupled with humour and generosity. It was a priviledge to know and work with him. My condolences to his family and close friends. He will be missed – a very sad day indeed.

  111. Leo William Biles

    My dear friend, always in my thoughts and prayers………..We will miss you so very much.
    My condolences to all the family. A Mans Man and True Fellow.xxx

  112. Carine Abou Saab Pereira

    A great and inspiring Man! May his soul RIP. Sincere condelences to his family and friends and to all FITCH family.

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