Roger Gant Jr., who served as president of Glen Raven Inc., from 1972 to 1989, died Monday at the age of 86.
Gant served the company in a variety of management positions and as president and board member for 55 years. He also led the Glen Raven team that created the Sunbrella brand of performance fabrics in the early 1960s.
"It was my good fortune to have Roger as a wise and patient mentor," Glen Raven president and CEO Allen E. Gant Jr. said in a statement. "As is true for many Glen Raven associates, Roger not only taught me the principles of good business, but also the value of family, community and people. He was a good and faithful steward of our company and set us on a solid course that is sustaining even today.
"Our family and all Glen Raven associates are greatly saddened by Roger's death. He was an inspiring leader, a dedicated husband and father and one of the brightest and most compassionate individuals you could ever care to meet. The world is a better place because Roger was here and we will miss him greatly."
Gant served in the U.S. Army during World War II, receiving decorations for meritorious service. After the war, he graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Following graduation from UNC, Gant joined Glen Raven in 1948 and held a variety of positions before becoming president in 1972, a position he held until his retirement from management in 1989. He also served as a Glen Raven director for 55 years until his retirement from the board in 2001 and became director emeritus.
Under Gant's leadership, Glen Raven's sales increased fivefold and sales per employee more than doubled. One of Gant's most important achievements for Glen Raven was the introduction of synthetic awning fabrics and creation of the Sunbrella brand beginning in 1961, the company said.