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Ted Rogers, at 75; founded telecommunications giant

TED ROGERS TED ROGERS (ap/file 2008)
By Charmaine Noronha
Associated Press / December 5, 2008
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TORONTO - Ted Rogers, founder of Canada's largest cable television and mobile phone company and owner of the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team, died in his Toronto home Tuesday at the age of 75, the company said.

Mr. Rogers, long listed as one of Canada's wealthiest people, had been hospitalized in October for a heart condition. Despite his failing health, Mr. Rogers continued to live up to his reputation of being a relentless businessman.

"He feared dying young like his father but was consumed by work and put strain on his health, even working from the hospital bed more than once," Rogers Communications Inc. said in a statement released after his death.

Bespectacled, tall, and sandy-haired, Mr. Rogers was known as a workaholic, a demanding boss, and a stubborn leader.

In his recent autobiography, "Relentless: The True Story of the Man Behind Rogers Communications," Mr. Rogers described the resistance he faced when he asked his board of directors to invest $500,000 Canadian dollars in wireless technology in 1983.

"Every board member voted against me, even my wife," he wrote.

"They forced me to put my own money on the line, which I did. I just knew wireless was the next big thing, and I wasn't about to miss it."

Mr. Rogers's investment turned into Canada's largest cellphone company.

Today Rogers Communications employs 24,000 people and is worth about $18 billion Canadian dollars.

Rogers Communications said its board plans to form a committee to lead a search for internal and external candidates to succeed Mr. Rogers as chief executive.

In the interim, Alan Horn, chairman and acting CEO, will also lead the company's office of the president, it said in a statement.

Rogers Communications' other assets include Maclean's and Chatelaine magazines and Rogers Centre, home of the Blue Jays. The company bought the club in 2000 and Rogers Centre, formerly known as the SkyDome, several years later.

This year, he arranged for the Buffalo Bills to play eight games over five years in Toronto.

"Ted was a true visionary and a giant in the communications field," said Bills owner Ralph Wilson. "Obviously, he played an integral part in the Bills Toronto Series and it makes me very sad that he won't be here to share in the historic game with us this weekend in the building that bears his name."

In 1991, Mr. Rogers was named an officer of the Order of Canada, one of the country's top honors.

"No Canadian of his generation achieved more and gave more back than Ted Rogers. He was a visionary, an entrepreneur, and a nationalist. People are often described as great Canadians. Ted Rogers represented the gold standard when it comes to great Canadians," said John Tory, Ontario's Progressive Conservative leader and a former Rogers Communications executive.

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