Bobby Ray Brown (B.R. Brown) passed away on November 7, 2019. He was 87. He was president, chairman and CEO of CONSOL Energy, then known as Consolidation Coal Co., from 1978 to 1998. During his tenure, CONSOL Energy was one of the largest coal producers in the United States and, at its peak, employed more than 20,000 miners. He served in the United States Air Force and earned a degree in Economics from Arkansas A&M at Monticello, where he was named a Distinguished Alumnus in 1995.
Brown began his business career in the U.S. oil industry, joining Conoco (formerly Continental Oil Co. and now ConocoPhillips) in 1957. By 1976, Brown had risen to senior vice president at Conoco. Brown was transferred to Conoco’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Pittsburgh-based Consolidation Coal Co., in late 1977 as executive vice president. Brown quickly took primary responsibility for labor relations at CONSOL, and, by 1981, assumed the position of director and chairman of the Negotiating Committee for the industry’s Bituminous Coal Operators’ Association (BCOA), which was made up of more than 100 coal-producing companies with union-represented workforces. During a 12-year period, from 1981 through 1993, Brown negotiated four national wage agreements with his union counterparts, including UMWA presidents Sam Church and Richard L. Trumka, who now heads the AFL-CIO.
During the 1993 negotiations, the union selectively struck various BCOA-member companies for nearly eight months in an effort to win provisions related to job security. During Brown’s tenure, CONSOL underwent several significant changes in corporate ownership. In 1981, CONSOL became a subsidiary of E.I. duPont de Nemours when that company acquired Conoco. That same year, in addition to his titles at CONSOL, he became a senior vice president at DuPont. Later, from 1990 to 1995, he was assigned responsibility as president and CEO of Remington Arms Co., another DuPont subsidiary.
Brown also served as chairman and/or director of a number of important coal or energy-related associations, including the National Coal Association, the Bituminous Coal Operators’ Association, the Center for Energy and Economic Development, the International Energy Agency’s Coal Industry Advisory Board, and the World Coal Institute. He was also a director for several public companies, including Patriot Coal Corp., Peabody Energy and PNC Bank.