Ben Woodhead Deputy editor - digital

Ben Woodhead is deputy editor - digital at the Financial Review Group. He writes on business, technology, politics and the economy and can be found on BRW, The Australian Financial Review and Smart Investor.

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UPDATED: Former Qantas chief James Strong dies in Sydney, aged 68

Published 04 March 2013 07:39, Updated 29 November 2013 09:57

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UPDATED: Former Qantas chief James Strong dies in Sydney, aged 68

Former Qantas boss James Strong in June 2011. Mr Strong, who died on Sunday aged 68, is remembered as a respected business leader, sports lover and patron of the arts. Photo: Danielle Smith

Qantas director and former Qantas chief executive James Strong has died, aged 68.

He passed away in Sydney’s Mater hospital from lung complications following surgery on 3 March, his family said in a statement.

“A beautiful man and a great loss. He will be profoundly missed by many. The family appreciates your thoughts at this difficult time and would like to thank the staff at the Mater Hospital for their care,” wife Jeanne-Claude and children Nick and Sam said in a brief message issued via Woolworths.

ABC managing director Mark Scott, Formula 1 driver Mark Webber and SBS managing director Michael Ebeid among those to pay tribute to the businessman.

Mr Strong – who earned the nickname ‘Mr Bow Tie’ in reference to his preferred neckwear – was chief executive of Qantas from 1983 to 2001 in one of many high-profile roles throughout a storied business career. He was also chairman of Insurance Australia Group from 2001 to 2010, chairman of Woolworths for 11 years and chairman of Rip Curl Group.

“James was a true gentleman in every respect, a man of enormous integrity, a leader and someone with great passion for the community in the arts and sports and more broadly,” Greenhill & Co vice chairman and managing director Simon Mordant told The Australian Financial Review .

James was a true gentleman in every respect, a man of enormous integrity.

“I was honoured to work with him at both Woolworths and at the Australia Council. He has left a great mark on many aspects of the cultural fabric of Australia. My thoughts are with Jeanne-Claude and the family at this very sad time.”

“Saddened to hear of the death of James Strong. Captain of industry, advocate for the arts, adverturer, gentleman, and wonderful bow-ties,” the ABC’s Mr Scott tweeted late on Sunday night.

Mark Webber also paid tribute to the businessman, tweeting “Sorry to hear the news that James Strong has passed away. He was very special towards my junior racing career. Great guy. Will be missed.”

Brett Clegg, the chief executive and publisher of Financial Review Group, publisher of BRW, said: “James had that rare combination through which he could equally apply himself in both hemispheres of the brain. He was erudite, intellectually sharp, a true captain of industry and will be especially remembered for his passion in promoting the arts. He will be greatly missed.”

Among other past and current positions, Mr Strong was a director of MotoGP manager Dorna Sports and was chairman of the V8 Supercars championship, a role he took on late last year after former chairman Tony Cochrane stood down.

A sports lover, he was an enthusiastic motorcycle rider and was to have chaired the local organising committee for the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup. He was also a patron of the arts and a philanthropist and was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2006 for services to business, commerce and the arts.

“James was a true gentleman in every respect, a man of enormous integrity , a leader and someone with great passion for the Community in the Arts and Sports and more broadly,” Greehill & Co. managing direct Simon Mordant told The Australian Financial Review.

“I was honoured to work with him at both Woolworths and at the Australia Council. He has left a great mark on many aspects of the cultural fabric of Australia. My thoughts are with Jeanne-Claude and the Family at this very sad time.”

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