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Arthur Irving, former president of Irving Oil, dead at 93


Arthur L. Irving, chairman emeritus and former president of Irving Oil, has died at the age of 93.

According to a news release from Irving Oil, Arthur Irving died on Monday. Born in Saint John, N.B., in 1930, Irving joined the company with his father K.C. Irving (who founded it in 1924) and his brothers Jim and Jack in 1951, eventually stepping into the role of president in 1972.

Irving Oil headquarters is pictured on May 13, 2024.

“Arthur Irving took Irving Oil to new heights,” the release reads. “He grew the Saint John refinery, which became the largest in Canada. He also expertly spearheaded the expansion of the company’s international activities, branching out in the Northeastern United States market and Ireland.

“Under his leadership as Chairman of the Board, the company would be named one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers in 2017, a title the company has maintained for eight consecutive years.”

In a letter sent Monday, Arthur Irving’s nephew, John K.F. Irving, said his uncle wasn't only enthusiastic about business, but was passionate about his community.

"Arthur’s commitment is evident both through his investment in its economic development and support of causes in areas such as the environment," said John's letter.

Premier Blaine Higgs, who worked at Irving Oil before entering politics, issued a statement about Arthur Irving's death.

"I offer my sincere condolences to his wife, Sandra, his children, and the rest of his family, friends and colleagues at this sad time," Higgs said.

Outside of Irving Oil, Arthur Irving served as chancellor of Acadia University in Wolfville, N.S., from 1996 to 2010, sat on the board of directors of Ducks Unlimited for 30 years, and founded the Arthur L. Irving Family Foundation.

“Arthur was a steadfast champion of Atlantic Canada and its people, and he dedicated his life to creating opportunities for the benefit of the region,” the release says. “He shook the hand of everyone he met, remembered every name, and had a wonderful ability to make every person he met feel a special connection.”

Saint John Mayor Donna Reardon said Irving's career success helped raise the profile of the Port City.

"He's made our name in Saint John as well an international name being connected with the Irving Oil refinery," she said.

Historian Greg Marquis notes Irving's name is prevalent around Saint John in places like the Irving Nature Park and Imperial Theatre. Through his foundation, which he ran with his wife Sandra, Irving was also a long-time supporter of several Maritime hospitals and universities.

“I know they have been very supportive of their community, as have other members of the family as well and various companies. They have made a difference as employers, but also at the community level,” said Marquis.

“It’s sort of the end of the end of an era in history in a way, you know, and I guess the question now is, what’s the third generation? What’s will happen in the future?”

Irving received the Order of Canada in 2002 and the Order of New Brunswick in 2012.

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