James R. Young, who advanced to become Union Pacific Corp. (UNP) chairman, president and chief executive officer after starting with the railroad company in an entry-level finance position, died today. He was 61 years old.
He died after a two-year battle with pancreatic cancer, the company said in a statement distributed by PR Newswire.
“Jim was an icon at Union Pacific and in the railroad industry, a colleague and great friend,” said Jack Koraleski, Union Pacific president and CEO. His “vision and leadership took Union Pacific to unparalleled heights and his civic contributions made positive impacts on many communities across Nebraska and the entire Union Pacific system.”
Young began his career with Union Pacific in 1978. He was elected chairman in January 2007 and served as president and CEO from November 2005 until March 2012, when the company announced he would take leave for medical treatment. The company said Feb. 6 that he would continue to serve as chairman in a non-executive capacity.
He was elected a director of Union Pacific in 2005.
“We are deeply saddened by Jim Young’s passing,” said Steve Rogel, Union Pacific lead director. “Jim’s commitment to Union Pacific’s mission and values, his tireless energy and infectious enthusiasm helped make Union Pacific an industry leader and made a lasting impression on everyone he met.”
Young was a lifelong Omaha resident and the oldest of six children, the company said in the statement.
In addition to his wife Shirley, Young is survived by three children and two grandchildren.
A graduate of the University of Nebraska Omaha, he and his wife established the Jim and Shirley Young Scholarship Program to assist low-income students.
He was a member and past chairman of the board for the Association of American Railroads, the Joslyn Art Museum, and the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce.
Union Pacific’s board of directors will elect a successor as chairman, as prescribed by the company’s governance policy.
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