Bob Walp, co-founder for General Communications Inc. (GCI) and the company’s first president, has died, the company said. He was 89.

Walp, along with company president and CEO Ron Duncan, founded GCI in 1979. They operated the company from Walp’s small apartment in Anchorage. GCI has grown over the years and is now a $2 billion publicly traded company.

“We are deeply saddened by this news and our hearts go out to Bob’s children and the entire Walp family,” said Ron Duncan.

Walp is known as a pioneer in the communications industry and was instrumental in the development of commercial satellite communications in Alaska. He was the appointed director of the State of Alaska’s Office of Telecommunications and later turned his focus to creating competition for Alascom, the sole long-distance telephone service in the state at the time, according to a news release from GCI.

“I wanted to provide good service,” Walp said in a 2013 news interview with Rhonda McBride.

Walp is survived by his children Paul Walp, Mary Cay Walp, Robert Walp, Patrick Walp and Susan Walp.

A full program about the life and legacy of Bob Walp will air on Frontiers Sunday, Feb. 5 at 4:30 and 10:30 p.m.

Editor’s note: GCI is the parent company of KTVA.

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