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John H. McConnell - Blue Jackets Majority Owner, Chairman 1923-2008

by Blue Jackets Staff / Columbus Blue Jackets

COLUMBUS, OHIO – The Columbus Blue Jackets are deeply saddened to announce the passing of club Majority Owner, Chairman and Governor John H. McConnell. Mr. McConnell, business leader, philanthropist and founder of Worthington Industries passed away on April 25, 2008. The National Hockey League club issued the following statement:

"Words simply cannot express the deep sadness felt by the Columbus Blue Jackets organization today. The National Hockey League would not be in Columbus if it weren't for Mr. Mac's love for this community and his deep commitment to it. He has always been, and will continue to be, the foundation on which our organization is built and we will work everyday to practice the values by which he lived his life.

"Mr. Mac was an honorable man who believed in the golden rule, 'Treat others as you want to be treated.' An enormously successful businessman, his accomplishments in that arena were surpassed only by his endeavors that improved the lives of others. Every person who knew Mr. Mac is the better for it and everyone in our organization will miss him dearly."

"There is an NHL team, and a terrific arena, in Columbus because of John McConnell. He loved the city, the Blue Jackets and the fans. He will always be remembered for his generosity and civic-mindedness. John was greatly respected and made a lasting contribution to the NHL. The entire NHL grieves his passing. Our condolences to John's family and to the Blue Jackets' organization." - NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman

Mr. McConnell was born on May 10, 1923, in Pughtown, W.Va. The son of a steel worker, he grew up during the Great Depression. He served aboard the U.S.S. Saratoga during World War II and married his high school sweetheart, Peggy Rardin, upon discharge from the Navy. He then used the GI bill to enter Michigan State University, where he studied business and played football.

While working for Weirton Steel Corp., Mr. McConnell identified a niche in the industry for custom steel processing services. He used his 1952 Oldsmobile as collateral for a loan and, in 1955, launched Worthington Industries and the steel processing industry. Today, the company he founded in Columbus is traded on the New York Stock Exchange and employs 8,000 people in 69 facilities in 11 countries. It has annual sales of approximately $3 billion.

"My father's legacy is how he treated people and that will live on in this company through all those who have worked here, past and present," said Chairman and CEO John P. McConnell. "His principles and wisdom are ingrained in our philosophy and that will never change. While it's hard to imagine not having him here, we are comforted by the fact that his guidance will always be with us."

He served as Chairman until 1996 and retired from the board in 2002. Although he stepped down from a formal leadership role in the company, Mr. McConnell’s leadership style, which has been included in the business curriculum at Harvard University and praised by management guru Tom Peters, still drives the company's culture. That philosophy, based on the Golden Rule:

"We treat our customers, employees, investors and suppliers as we would like to be treated," is the subject of Mr. McConnell's 2004 book, "Our Golden Rule."

Through his humanitarian and community efforts, Mr. McConnell became widely recognized as one of Columbus' most generous citizens. His charitable contributions led to the McConnell Heart Hospital at Riverside Hospital, which provides treatment and prevention services for heart-related illnesses. The more than $15 million donation to develop the hospital was the largest gift ever received by Riverside Hospital or its parent company, OhioHealth.

In 1997, Mr. McConnell led a group of investors to bring the National Hockey League to Columbus. The Blue Jackets played their first game in September 2000. The arrival of the team brought an influx of development and community pride to Columbus. Before the team even took the ice, he made sure the Blue Jackets organization would serve its community in other ways, too. The Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation was established in March of 2000 to help improve the quality of life throughout central Ohio.

Mr. McConnell also was one of the early investors in the Columbus Crew Major League Soccer franchise and previously was a minority owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball club and the Columbus Destroyers.

Through his work ethic, business acumen, philanthropy, sense of community and genuine desire to do the right thing for his customers, employees and community, Mr. McConnell established himself as a leader, not only in Columbus, but also throughout the steel industry and the business world.

Mr. McConnell was named Chief Executive Officer of the Year by Financial World magazine and Industry Week magazine recognized him for Excellence in Management. He was the recipient of the Horatio Alger Award and the National Football Foundation Gold Medal Award. He received the 33rd degree Scottish Rite Mason, the Ohio Governor's Award and the Michigan State University Outstanding Alumni Award. He was inducted into the Junior Achievement National Business Hall of Fame, the Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame and the Columbus Hall of Fame.

Mr. McConnell is survived by his son, John P. McConnell of Galena, Ohio and his daughter, Margaret of New Orleans, Louisiana. Mr. McConnell is also survived by six grandchildren: K.C. Kollis; and Jennifer, John H. II, Jessica, Porter and Colin McConnell. He will be cremated and funeral arrangements are pending.

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