The founder of Shaw Communications and Corus Entertainment, and well known community philanthropist, JR Shaw, has died at the age of 85.
In a statement on Tuesday, Shaw Communications said its executive chair and former CEO died peacefully and would be remembered as a “true pioneer of Canadian business and a visionary of the Canadian telecommunications sector.”
“My family and I are at a loss for words and are deeply saddened at JR’s passing,” current CEO of Shaw Communications Brad Shaw said of his father in a statement.
“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,” added Shaw.
The company went on to say JR focused his career on customers and ensuring they had exceptional service.
“He was a classic builder, an unbridled entrepreneur,” said Corus Entertainment CEO Doug Murphy in a statement to employees.
“He was genuine. He revelled in the success of others.“
JR’s career spanned 50 years and included building and growing the network to be one of the country’s leading providers, serving more than seven million people with cable, internet, voice, satellite and wireless service.
“The growth and success of Shaw is a direct reflection of JR’s commitment and passion for delivering excellent customer service,” the company said.
JR handed over the reigns as CEO to his eldest son, the late Jim Shaw, in 1998.
The role was taken over by his brother Brad Shaw in 2010, though JR stayed active in the company he helped build as the executive chairman.
Shaw Communications started out under a different name, founded as Capital Cable Television Co., by JR in 1966.
The start-up cable company went on the air for the first time in Edmonton in 1971, with its first customer being connected the same year in Sherwood Park.
From there, the company continued to grow and eventually spun off a separate public company, Corus Entertainment, which owns Global News.
Shaw internet came to Western Canada in 1996 and in 2005, customers saw the addition of home phone service.
Four years ago, in 2016, Shaw acquired WIND Mobile, which was later renamed as Freedom Mobile, offering wireless services to its customers.
Passion for community
Along with his passion and dedication to the company he founded and grew, JR was also heavily involved with the arts and several charities.
He’s been recognized for his contributions with many honours, including being named to the Order of Canada, receiving the Alberta Order of Excellence, and receiving honorary degrees from the University of Alberta, University of Calgary and Graceland University in Iowa.
He was also a member of the Canadian Business Hall of Fame and the Cable Hall of Fame.
JR also played a large part in creating the annual Shaw Charity Classic golf fundraiser, which has given more than $48 million to charities across Alberta since it started in 2013.
“The Board of Directors and all employees of Shaw Communications express their deepest condolences and sympathy to the Shaw family for their loss,” the company said.