JR Shaw, the founder and Executive Chair of Shaw Communications, has died. He was 85.
In a release, the company said Shaw passed away peacefully on Monday.
“My family and I are at a loss for words and are deeply saddened at JR’s passing,” said Brad Shaw, CEO of Shaw Communications. “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.”
“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. We know we will miss his smile, his advice and his encouragement, but all of our people know that JR would want us looking out for each other, for our neighbours, and serving our customers to the best of our abilities,” Shaw added. “Our tribute to him will be to continue to grow the business he loved.”
Shaw will assume the role of Executive Chair on an interim basis in addition to his role as CEO.
JR Shaw developed an interest in television during his youth in southwestern Ontario, sharing in a 2013 interview with NAIT – where he served as chair of the Board of Governors from 1990-97 – that an episode of The Lone Ranger was his first introduction to the then new medium.
He moved to Edmonton with his family in 1961 to expand his father’s pipe-coating business, going on in 1966 to found Capital Cable Television Co. Ltd. The start-up connected its first cable customer in Sherwood Park, AB in 1971.
From there, the company built a substantial radio and television broadcasting group that was eventually spun out into the publicly-traded Corus Entertainment. In 1996, Shaw helped introduce Western Canadians to the internet, and in 2005 launched home phone residential service. In 2016, Shaw acquired WIND Mobile (now branded as Freedom).
JR Shaw stepped down as CEO of Shaw Communications in 1998 when his eldest son, the late Jim Shaw took over, but remained active in the company.
“JR was an icon in the industry, and he was extraordinarily passionate in delivering connectivity and customer service to millions of Canadians. His vision and insight combined with his warmth of character created a magic touch among everyone who knew and worked with him,” said Paul Pew, Lead Director, Shaw Communications. “His remarkable legacy will live on through his family’s continued leadership of the company.”
In addition to his significant contribution to Canadian business, Shaw was a passionate supporter of Canadian art and artists, and numerous charitable causes, including Edmonton’s Stollery Children’s Hospital. He was named an Officer of the Order of Canada, a recipient of the Alberta Order of Excellence, and held honorary degrees from University of Alberta, University of Calgary, and Graceland University in Iowa. He was also an inductee of the Canadian Business Hall of Fame and the Cable Hall of Fame. Shaw was instrumental in the creation of the Shaw Charity Classic, Calgary’s stop on the PGA TOUR Champions that has raised over $48 million for Alberta charities since 2013.
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