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Robert Murray, longtime coal executive and founder of Murray Energy, dies at age 80

Murray

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Robert E. Murray, founder and longtime president and CEO of the former Murray Energy Corp., died Sunday.

Murray, 80, was a native of Bethesda who established his company headquarters just west of St. Clairsville. He announced on Oct. 19 that he was retiring as chairman of the board of directors of American Consolidated Natural Resource Holdings Inc., marking the end of a 63-year career in the coal industry.

ACNR Holdings was formed to acquire Murray Energy when it emerged from bankruptcy several months ago. Murray served as ACNR’s first chairman after agreeing to step down from his leadership roles at Murray Energy as part of the bankruptcy process.

Michael Shaheen, a St. Clairsville attorney who has been representing Murray in recent months, said Sunday afternoon that Murray had died that morning. Shaheen said a private memorial service will be held Tuesday.

Murray started his career working as an underground coal miner and worked his way through the ranks to executive positions with the North American Coal Corp. before acquiring the local coal companies and reserves with which he formed Murray Energy Corp. That company, prior to its bankruptcy, would become the largest independent coal mining operation in the country. Murray also became a powerful advocate for the coal industry and a power-broker on the national political scene..

Murray recently had applied for federal black lung benefits after he said testing at multiple hospitals diagnosed him with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis — an illness that includes inflammation of the lungs and shortness of breath. He said at least one doctor had suggested he might have black lung.

Murray, who had relied on supplemental oxygen for a few years, said he believed his ailment stemmed from his time working as an underground coal miner.

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