Union Pacific Corporation Chairman James R. (Jim) Young, who worked his way from an entry-level finance position to chairman, president and chief executive officer, died Feb. 15, 2014, after a two-year battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 61 years old.
A lifelong Omaha resident and the oldest of six children, Young was elected Union Pacific Corporation chairman in January 2007. He served as president and chief executive officer from November 2005 until March 2012. Prior to those appointments, Young was Union Pacific Railroad president and chief operating officer, a position he had held since January 2004. He was elected a director of Union Pacific Corporation in February 2005.
"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. "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. Most importantly, he was a dedicated and loving husband, father and grandfather. He will be greatly missed."
"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 named Railway Age Railroader of the Year in 2013.
"As Jim Young so aptly puts it, 'Union Pacific has evolved from the company that built America by building the first transcontinental railroad to one that today is critical to the global supply chain,'" said Railway Age editor-in-chief William C. Vantuono in January 2013. "For his vital role in that evolution, he is a deserving recipient of our Railroader of the Year award. Under the leadership of Young and such key team members as Jack Koraleski, the current President and CEO, UP recently has started to see what its franchise can deliver for customers, employees, communities, and shareholders."
Young began his railroad career with Union Pacific in 1978 and held a variety of management positions. In 1997, he was named vice president - Customer Service Planning and Quality; in 1998 was named senior vice president and corporate treasurer of Union Pacific Corporation; and in December 1999 was named chief financial officer of Union Pacific Corporation.
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. He served on the boards of FXE Railroad in Mexico, the University of Nebraska Medical Center, The Knights of Aksarben Foundation, Heritage Services and Creighton University.
A graduate of the University of Nebraska Omaha, he and his wife, Shirley, established the Jim and Shirley Young Scholarship Program specifically designed to assist low-income students. The Youngs grew up in Omaha, graduated from Omaha South High School and led the community fundraising effort to install a new artificial turf field at the school's Collin Field in 2009, marking the first time the school could host varsity football games since 1946.
He served as a Presbyterian Church Elder and coached youth football, basketball and baseball in Nebraska.
In addition to Shirley, Young is survived by three children and two grandchildren. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to pancreatic research in care of Dr. Jean Grem at the University of Nebraska Medical Center or the charity of their choice.
Union Pacific's board of directors will elect a successor as chairman, as prescribed by the company's governance policy.