James R. Young, chairman of Union Pacific Corp. (UP), died Saturday after a two-year battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 61.
Young took a leave of absence from his president and CEO duties in March 2012 to undergo treatment. He remained as chairman.
Young joined Omaha, Neb.-based UP in 1978 in an entry-level finance position. He worked his way up to become president in January 2004 and CEO in November 2005. He was named chairman in January 2007.
"Jim was an icon at Union Pacific and in the railroad industry, a colleague, and great friend," said Jack Koraleski, UP's president and CEO, in a statement. "Jim's 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 presided over one of the greatest periods of growth in UP's storied 152-year history. UP reported full-year 2011 results that set all-time annual records for net and operating income. Its fourth quarter results that year set all-time quarterly records for both net and operating income. The original Union Pacific was formed on July 1, 1862, when President Abraham Lincoln signed the Pacific Railway Act.
A lifelong resident of Omaha and a graduate of the University of Nebraska Omaha, Young and his wife, Shirley, established the "Jim and Shirley Young Scholarship Program" designed to assist low-income students. Young is survived by his wife, three children, and two grandchildren.
The family asked that in lieu of flowers, people make contributions to pancreatic research in care of Dr. Jean Grem at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, or to a charity of their choice.