Robert H. Quenon (‘51 BS)
Robert H. Quenon, a fourth-generation coal miner, made coal his life’s work, and it took him from summer work at the bottom of Federal No. 1 mine to the top of the nation’s largest coal company Peabody Holding Company, Inc., now Peabody Energy.
After earning his mining engineering degree from WVU in 1951, he worked for Consolidation Coal. Upon earning his law degree from George Washington University, he worked for several coal companies in managerial capacities, including Exxon Corp., which recruited him to develop its coal division. He joined Peabody in 1977. As president and CEO from 1978-90, Quenon directed Peabody’s entry into the West Virginia coal market. As a result, Peabody invested about $500 million in the state, employing nearly 4400 West Virginians. With $2.8 billion in revenues, Peabody now ranks as one of the top 10 energy-producing companies worldwide and in the top 250 of the nation’s largest industrial corporations.
Quenon has served a leading role on many advisory boards, including the National Coal Association, the Coal Industry Advisory Board, the American Mining Congress, the Bituminous Coal Operator’s Association, the American Coal Foundation, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, St. Louis University, and the St. Louis Art Museum. He has served on the corporate boards for many companies, including Bake Hughes, Inc., Newmont Mining Corp., and Boatman Bancorporation. He has also given his leadership to his alma mater, serving as a member of the WVU College of Mineral and Energy Resources Visiting Committee.
Quenon’s accomplishments have earned him significant recognition. In 1985 he received the Erksine Ramsey Medal for Distinguished Achievement in Coal Technology and in 1991 the National Coal Association gave him its highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award. He is a member of the West Virginia Coal Mining Hall of Fame. He received an honorary degree from WVU in 1988, and he was named Distinguished Engineer of Mines by the WVU Department of Mining Engineering in 2001.