Paul F. Harron Jr., the longtime chairman and president of Harron Communications, died on Dec. 8 at age 63 of lung cancer, the company said last week.
A funeral service last Wednesday at Saints Simon and Jude Catholic Church in West Chester, Pa., drew hundreds of attendees, including many current and former employees of the cable company, director of programming Linda Stuchell said.
“I saw people I hadn’t seen in 20 years,” she said, attributing that demonstration of respect in part to the generosity Harron showed to employees after selling the company’s then-cable operations to Adelphia Communications Corp. in 1999 for a reported $1.17 billion in cash.
Stuchell said the company had “stacks of letters” to Harron thanking him for enabling them to fund such life goals as sending their children to college with the proceeds.
“He never wanted acclaim for anything he did, but he was generous to a fault,” she said.
After taking charge of the company in the mid-1970s, Harron expanded a cable operation that had about 30,000 customers to one with 330,000 customers when it was sold to Adelphia. His father, also named Paul Harron, was a cable pioneer who built the cable system in Utica, N.Y., his first, in 1964.
In recent years, the company now called Harron Entertainment has been making cable acquisitions and aspired to get back to the 300,000-customer level, company officials have said. It had retained about 30,000 customers in New Hampshire and acquired systems from New England Cable and Gans Communications in 2000 and 2004, respectively, to reach the current total of about 110,000 customers in five states.
Stuchell said James J. Bruder Jr., the company’s executive vice president and chief operating officer (and Paul Harron Jr.’s nephew), has already told employees that “it was always Paul’s wish that the family would continue to run the business and we just move forward with everything we planned to do. So there really won’t be any changes.”
Harron Communications has about 230 employees, including those at the cable systems, Stuchell said. The company’s chief executive is Joel Cohen.
Harron also was a founding member of C-SPAN and started Metrobase Cable Advertising, later sold to Comcast Corp. He was president of Harron Management Co., which included numerous Harron radio and television holdings and a private venture-capital fund. He was a graduate of Holy Cross College and attended Malvern Preparatory School in Malvern, to which he was a significant donor. Malvern Prep’s president, the Rev. David J. Duffy, presided at the funeral service, Stuchell said.