Charles A. Corry, a tax lawyer and corporate planner who once aspired to little more than middle management, has been elected to succeed David M. Roderick as chairman and chief executive of USX Corp., the oil and steel giant.
The move has been expected since last February when Corry, as president of the corporate remnants in the USX Diversified Group, was given the title of president of the entire company and assistant to Roderick.
Corry, 56, will take the top job June 1, the day after Roderick, 65, retires as mandated under company policy.
“Chuck Corry has worked closely with me on the restructuring of the corporation during the 1980s. This experience makes him uniquely qualified to lead USX into the decade of the ‘90s,” Roderick said. “I am pleased that the board chose him, and he has my strong support.”
Corry was a key strategist in fending off a bevy of unwanted corporate raiders including Carl C. Icahn, still the largest USX shareholder, as well as Robert Holmes a Court, Irwin Jacobs and T. Boone Pickens Jr., with a restructuring plan that includes $1.5 billion in asset sales and major cost reductions to boost profit.
On the New York Stock Exchange, USX rose 37.5 cents a share to $32.50.
Roderick led the transition from U.S. Steel Corp., which was largely dependent on steel making, to USX, which derives two-thirds of its $15 billion in annual sales from oil and gas, yet remains the nation’s largest steel producer.
Corry has described himself as an unemotional person and not one to willingly sacrifice his personal life for his career.
“I work more than I would prefer,” he said in March, 1988, of a routine that kept him in the office from 7:10 a.m. to 5:45 p.m.
In that interview with the Pittsburgh Press, Corry said he places personal values ahead of material success.
“I feel sorry for people who no matter how successful . . . are not happy,” he said. “I have been a happy person all my life. I am content with myself and I always have been. I’ve made peace with myself a long time ago, and we all have to find that peace so that when we lay our head down on the pillow at night we sleep soundly and we are content with ourselves.”
Corry said he once tried to plot his career.
“I figured out that if everybody retires when they should and if I move up as I should . . . I was going to be tax manager at about 46 years old, and I would have thought that was a pretty successful career,” he said.
The board did not make a new selection for the office of president, a post Corry will vacate June 1. The position was empty from the retirement of William Roesch in November, 1983, until Corry’s appointment last year.
A Cincinnati native, Corry began his USX career in the tax department of the former American Steel & Wire division in Cleveland in 1959. A series of tax and finance assignments in Pittsburgh and New York led to his promotion to tax department general manager in 1975 and assistant controller in 1978.
He became vice president of strategic planning in 1979, and senior vice president and controller in 1982, the year U.S. Steel acquired Marathon Oil Co.
While still responsible for corporate planning, Corry oversaw much of the asset sales from the non-oil and non-steel businesses assembled in the Diversified Group.