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Tuesday 21 October 2014

Michael Cox: 1951-2014

21st February, 2014 by Rupert Millar

It is with great sadness that the drinks business reports the death of Michael Cox who passed away yesterday afternoon.

Michael Cox

As Master of the Vintners

Michael died at home surrounded by friends and family a year after he underwent an operation on a rare form of cancer.

Part of the Clark family that founded UK wholesaler Matthew Clark and with a grandfather who was involved in the founding of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association and the Institute of Masters of Wine, alongside his twin David, Michael was already steeped in the trade before becoming one of its stalwarts.

Beginning his career at Matthew Clark he also set up the UK subsidiary for Yalumba, Negociants, in 1990.

It was however as the head of Wines of Chile (when his brother was simultaneously head of New Zealand Winegrowers UK) that he is perhaps best known and latterly as Master of the Vintners Company one of the oldest Livery companies in London – a position he saw through to the end despite his illness.

A letter from his wife Lynne describes how after six months of chemotherapy last year his cancer returned just before Christmas.

Bearing this reversal of fortune, as was the character of the man, with “great stoicism and forbearance” he nonetheless managed a visit to Oxford just four days ago which apparently left him “delighted”.

As well as his various roles in the industry, Michael was known as a keen party-goer and was, as Jancis Robinson MW notes in her own tribute, a “legendary dancer”.

michael-cox-2

Michael after his investiture as a Commander of the Order of Merit

Tireless, cheerful and ever helpful, Michael’s peers voted to award him the drinks business’ Lifetime Achievement Award last year which was presented by his brother David.

His commitment to Chilean wine in the UK also earned him the rare honour of being made a Comendador de la Orden al Merito de Chile – a Commander of the Order of Merit of Chile – which was presented to him in the presence of the President of Chile, Sebastian Piñera in 2010.

It was a moment he described as “one of the proudest” in his 40 year career.

A funeral for family and close friends will be held in the next 10 days while a memorial service for friends and colleagues will be held within the next six weeks, details of which will be posted here on the drinks business.

12 Responses to “Michael Cox: 1951-2014”

  1. Anna Harris-Noble says:

    What sad news. I always loved to chat to Michael as he reminded me so much of a younger version of my beloved grandfather. Both true gentlemen who are sorely missed. My thoughts are with Lynne, David and the rest of the family.

  2. Charles Crawfurd says:

    The Trade has lost one of its “greats”! Michael was a gentleman who combined energy, charm, considerable business skill not to mention those he strutted on the dance floor. Rest in peace, dear friend, we shall miss you.

  3. Ian Hutcheon says:

    The Earth loses a lovely man, a great personality who supported my projects and helped without asking for anything in return. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all his family from us here in Chile. Thank you Michael. Ian Hutcheon and family.

  4. A great character who will be sorely missed through out the wine trade. Goodbye Michael it was a real pleasure to know you. Penny

  5. Garth Banks says:

    I knew Michael from the time he joined Matthew Clark until I retired in 1988. He spent some time seconded to I H Baker in Sydney and we had many memorable moments when I spent several months there.

    He, hist first wife and two children had several outings including trips on the yacht owned by Robin Spratt where we enjoyed a barbeque picnic on a remote beach, also with us was, a relative, Lawrence Gordon Clark the TV and film director.

    When my elder daughter took a gap year with a friend she had dinner with Ian Baker at his house and was surprised to hear my name mentioned in a discussion with another guest, it was Michael Cox who was entertaining with his stories of his life and work in England. It is indeed a small world which will miss the charm and energy of a true Wines and Spirits leader. God bless him and the condolences of both Joan, my wife who worked with him and me go to his wife and family.

  6. Victor Young says:

    Michael was simply one of the nicest gentlemen i have ever met. I took him for lunch in the early 90s in Belfast during my time with McKibbens Fine Wines and we had arranged to meet in St Albans which was quite close to his office in Harpenden at the time when i was visiting relatives. A wonderful chap. A pleasure to have enjoyed your company Michael. Thoughts with your family.

  7. Nick Bulleid says:

    Vale, Michael! I well remember your experience and charm from your days in Australia.

  8. He will be sadly missed by many. RIP Michael.

  9. Jane Gordon Clark says:

    I am not surprised to see so many wonderful comments about my cousin. He will be missed by so many people.

  10. Marinel FitzSimons says:

    Very sad news indeed. A truly lovely man who was a pleasure to be around. Much love to his family.

  11. Victor Lanson says:

    A very sad loss. Michael will be missed by so many. He was a strong pillar of our trade. RIP.

  12. Angela Crowe says:

    Michael you will be greatly missed by all of us. You have always had such a strong presence in the lives of those of us who were lucky enough to know you. Our family remembers all those wonderful times we had with you here in Oz and our love goes to Josie and Henry and all your family
    Love Always
    The Crowes

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