Shaw Communications Inc. founder and executive chair JR Shaw has died at 85

CALGARY — The founder of Shaw Communications Inc., JR Shaw, has died at 85 years old, the company said Tuesday.

Shaw, who ran the company as chief executive until 1998 and remained its executive chairman, “passed away peacefully” on Monday, the company said in a statement.

JR founded Capital Cable Television Co. Ltd. in 1966 in Edmonton. It connected its first cable customer and went on the air for the first time in 1971, eventually growing into one of the country’s largest cable providers.

In recent years Shaw has grown its wireless business, becoming the fourth largest network in Canada.

JR remained active in the company to the end, serving as executive chair until his death.

“I spoke to JR every day about the business. He was engaged and interested in everything the company was doing — from the latest technology being rolled out to how we were meeting the needs of families across Western Canada,” said Brad Shaw, JR’s son and the company’s current CEO, in a statement.

Brad will take over JR’s executive chairman position on an interim basis, the company said. The appointment will be confirmed at an April 9 board meeting.

“My family and I are at a loss for words and deeply saddened at JR’s passing,” Brad said.

“JR was the founder and leader of our company, but he was also an exceptional husband, a loving father, grandfather and great-grandfather. His legacy of love and compassion for people will live on for generations.”

Shaw was an active philanthropist who was named an Officer of the Order of Canada and received the Alberta Order of Excellence. He also received several honorary degrees.

JR served as the company’s CEO, overseeing its growth through acquisitions and other means — and a change of headquarters to Calgary from Edmonton — until 1998.

He stepped down and his eldest son, Jim Shaw, took over the role until 2010, when Jim’s younger brother Brad took on the job. Jim Shaw died in Jan. 2018 at the age of 60 following a brief illness.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 24, 2020.

Companies in this story: (TSX:SJR.B)

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