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Arthur Irving, the former president and chairman of Irving Oil, died on May 13, 2024, at the age of 93. Image: Submitted/Irving Oil

Businessman Arthur Irving dies at age 93

By Brad Perry May 13, 2024 | 1:40 PM

Arthur Irving, who spent many decades at the helm of Saint John-based Irving Oil, has died.

Irving passed away on Monday at the age of 93, according to a statement from the company.

“A proud Canadian, 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,” said the statement.

“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.”

It was Arthur’s father, K.C. Irving, who founded Irving Oil in his hometown of Bouctouche back in 1924.

The younger Irving joined the company in 1951, working with his father and his brothers, Jim and Jack. He became president in 1972 and later went on to serve as chairman of the board of directors.

Arthur helped grow the Saint John refinery to become the largest in Canada. He also spearheaded the expansion of the company’s international activities, branching out in the northeastern United States market and Ireland.

“Until his death, Arthur remained active in the business and was recently recognized for his 73 years of service to the company,” said the company statement.

Condolences for Arthur Irving

John K.F. Irving, a nephew of Arthur, is among those sending condolences following his passing.

He said his uncle was not 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,” John Irving wrote in a statement.

“He served as chancellor of Acadia University and was a life-long dedicated member of Ducks Unlimited, committing many hours working toward their goals and objectives.”

John Irving is the president of Ocean Capital. The company owns Acadia Broadcasting Corporation, which operates this station.

J.K. Irving, Arthur’s only surviving brother and president of J.D. Irving, Ltd. also extended his sympathies.

“His tremendous contributions to the company, our home town of Saint John, New Brunswick, and all of Atlantic Canada will have a lasting impact,” he said in a statement.

“We shared a lifetime of memories, and he will be missed.”

New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs said Arthur brought endless energy and dedication to serving customers and building the business.

“Despite his achievements as a Canadian and international business leader, he remained grounded in his New Brunswick roots,” Higgs wrote in a statement.

“On behalf of all New Brunswickers, I offer my sincere condolences to his wife, Sandra, his children, and the rest of his family, friends and colleagues at this sad time.”

Saint John Mayor Donna Reardon said in a social media post that Arthur’s legacy is immeasurable and his contributions will be forever felt.

“Arthur’s vision, leadership, and unwavering commitment to Saint John have left a permanent mark on our city’s landscape. Arthur touched countless lives and will continue to inspire generations to come,” said Reardon.

Company’s future uncertain

The death of the former Irving Oil president comes at a time of uncertainty for the company and its 4,000 employees.

Last June, Irving Oil quietly released a statement on its website announcing that it was undergoing a strategic review.

The company has said several options are on the table, including a new ownership structure, a “full or partial sale,” and changing its portfolio and assets.

Then in October, Arthur Irving stepped down as chairman while his daughter, Sarah Irving, resigned as executive vice-president and chief brand officer.