Railroad Pioneer Hunter Harrison Dies at 73

Hunter Harrison

CBJ — Hunter Harrison, perhaps the most well-known railroad executive anywhere in the world, died on Saturday at the age of 73.

Harrison was the President and CEO of CSX, the third-largest railroad company in the United States at the time of his passing.

CSX confirmed Harrison’s death in a statement, saying it was caused by “unexpectedly severe complications” from a recent illness. His death in Wellington, Florida, comes only a couple days after the company announced he was taking an unplanned medical leave of absence.

Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Harrison was a long-time railroad executive who made his career turning around railroads. Before joining CSX in March, Harrison was president and CEO of Canadian Pacific Railway and the Canadian National Railway Company. He also was the head of the Illinois Central Railway in the 1990s.

“Hunter was a larger-than-life figure who brought his remarkable passion, experience and energy in railroading to CSX,” the company said in a statement.

He was hired by Florida-based CSX in March under shareholder pressure. But recently there had been concerns about his health. The Wall Street Journal reported in May that Harrison often worked from home and occasionally required portable oxygen.

CSX shares fell sharply late last week when the company announced Harrison was taking an unexpected leave of absence due to a medical condition.

Edward Kelly, chairman of CSX’s board of directors said that Jim Foote, who was named acting CEO when Harrison took the leave of absence, will continue in his role as acting CEO. Kelly called Harrison’s death “a major loss” to the company but said they would try to implement some of the ideas Harrison had for the railroad before his death.

@CanBizJournal

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