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Thomas Alick Law

Thomas Alick Law (1905 – 1967)

Born 4 November 1905 in Tetbury, Gloucestershire. Mother Violet Marie Muirhead marries Hubert Henry Bingham Law in 1902 in Marylebone, London and they are divorced in 1907. Violet marries Robert Hamilton Kemp in 1908 in Hanover Square. In 1911 the Kemp family is living in Epsom, Surrey.

Thomas marries Isabel Doris Lamb Hancock in 1932 in Woolwich, Kent. In 1939 they are living in Hammersmith, London and Thomas is shown as an Engineer.

From the Rank Xerox Gazette 24 April 1967 No. 7


It was with the greatest sadness that we learnt of the sudden death of Mr Law, after a short illness, on Saturday 15 April. Thomas Alick Law was appointed Managing Director of Rank Xerox when the company was formed in December 1956, and became a member of the Parent Board of The Rank Organisation in May 1964. Mr Law, who was 61, began his association with The Rank Organisation over 37 years ago in 1929 when he joined British Acoustic Films, a sub-sidiary of Gaumont British Picture Corporation, as Chief Engineer. He joined the boards of British Acoustic, Taylor- Hobson, and G. B. Kalee in 1945 and became Managing Director of Rank Precision Industries (then known as British Optical and Precision Engineers) in 1951, He resigned from the boards of Rank Precision Industries and its subsidiaries in June 1963 to concentrate on his work in Rank Xerox.

Something of the warmth of his personality is shown in the photograph taken recently during his visit to South Africa. That warmth and humanity will be most keenly missed by everyone in Rank Xerox. Our deepest sympathy is extended to Mrs Law and her daughter. A solemn Requiem Mass for Mr Law was celebrated at the Church of St Charles Borromeo on Wednesday 19 April and was attended by more than three hundred relatives, friends and colleagues from all parts of the world.


“Tom Law was above everything a kindly warm hearted man, and in more than a score of countries his loss is felt as keenly as it is here in the United Kingdom.

His friends and colleagues could not show more clearly the truly international nature of the business he did so much to create, than by the great flow of messages they are sending expressing sorrow at his death.

Tom, as he was always known over the thirty-seven years that he had been with The Rank Organisation, was an engineer of great experience, and looking back on the earlier stages of his career it seems in retrospect that he was preparing himself step by step for the ultimate challenge of leading the most successful new venture in this company’s history.

As Managing Director of Rank Xerox he had quite naturally the capacity to inspire respect and to win affection, to give clear leader-ship but never to lose his charming and quietly unassuming manner.

Whether talking on equal terms with technicians who were work-ing to apply the brilliant new scientific process of xerography to the practical needs of the world’s business community, or considering the personal problem of a member of his team, Tom Law played a full part.

The scope of Rank Xerox operations today is the finest memorial to his achievements.

I know that Tom will be particularly keenly missed by our friends and colleagues in Xerox Corporation. His frequent visits to Rochester did much to cement lasting friendships without which the great partnership between our two companies could never have succeeded.

Most of all I shall miss him as a senior colleague and as a friend, a man who worked closely with me during crucial and momentous years; a loyal friend.

I hope that Tom’s example will provide an inspiration for the many young people in the Com-pany he has left behind him. His achievements are there for all to see, but let us not forget that above all he cared about people.”

John Davis Chairman and Chief Executive The Rank Organisation


“The death of Thomas A. Law is a great loss to all of us. He was far more than a business associate. Tom Law was a friend, and he had many, many friends throughout the world. Greatly respected and admired by those who knew and worked with him, Tom will continue to live in the minds and hearts of all of us whose lives he entered.

Tom guided Rank Xerox through the critical, formative period of its growth over the past ten years. He was a pillar of strength, largely responsible for earning his company a place in Britain’s commercial history by making it one of the fifty largest profit-makers in the United Kingdom. In fact, the company’s rate of growth has been greater than any comparable enterprise in Great Britain. This achievement, among others, will stand as a tribute to Tom Law’s professional talents and the people he selected in building the company.”

Joseph C. Wilson Chairman and Chief Executive Xerox Corporation


To many people in the company Mr Law must, in the nature of things, have been a somewhat remote figure. In a company moving as fast and getting as big as Rank Xerox, this is, however regrettable, bound to be so. Therefore there must be some people who, hearing of his death, must think – what kind of a man was he, what was he like to work for ? No-one can doubt his towering achievements; what better monument could a Managing Director have than Rank Xerox? But what did his staff think about him?

The overall impression was a courteous, fair and distinguished man. He had that rare ability to treat everyone

with the same respect, and to be acceptable to them without altering his own manner in the slightest degree. I very much doubt whether any stranger could talk to him for more than a few seconds without becoming quite certain that Mr Law was a company director. He never had to go out of his way to establish his own position. As a result he managed to command unquestioned authority and at the same time earn devotion and esteem.

The quality I can remember most vividly about him was his ability to listen to a mass of detail, and then -to my alarm – pick out t the weakest point, – the very that

I would have preferred to have kept out of the spotlight. Often the points I had prepared with the greatest care were dismissed in a few quick and apposite phrases. A question here and there to probe and make sure that you really did know what you were talking about, and then his mind was leaping ahead to the next point – one soon learned to keep the answers brief to try and prevent that happening !

He had a wonderful sense of humour, and this was undoubtedly one of his strongest characteristics. But ask someone to give you an instance of his humour and you are likely to meet with a blank. The reason is that his humour was born of the moment, it illuminated the topic under discussion and helped to put it into its proper perspective. Often it would discharge the tension that so quickly builds up when there is a serious point to consider. Sometimes it was his way of letting you know that he understood more of the background than you thought he did.

Mr Law had that extraordinary ability to appear to be able to manufacture time. When one particular event was being planned he went through the proposals one by one, endorsing the particular points that needed his personas authority and apparently without effort spotting gaps which everyone else had missed. At the end of the conversation he said: ‘Well, if you get any problems you can always come and see me at any time. I will never keep you waiting for more than a few minutes.’ It was touches like this that won him the devotion and affection of his staff.