Steve Appleton, chief executive of semiconductor firm Micron, has been killed in a plane crash.
"Our hearts go out to his wife, Dalynn, his children and his family during this tragic time," the company said in a statement.
"Steve's passion and energy left an indelible mark on Micron, the Idaho community and the technology industry at large."
Appleton had spent his entire career with Micron, taking over the chief executive role in 1994. Under Appleton's reign, the company expanded its reach into the memory market and worked with Intel to innovate smaller and more efficient fabrication methods.
According to local news reports, Appleton had been piloting his personal aircraft when he crashed near a runway at the Boise Airport in Idaho. Nobody else was in the plane.
An avid pilot, Appleton had previously been injured in a 2004 plane crash.
Word of Appleton's passing has sent shockwaves throughout the semiconductor sector. The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), on which Appleton served as a board member, said it was saddened to hear the news.
"Steve was recognised just this past November with the industry’s highest honor, the Robert N. Noyce Award, in recognition of his immense contributions to the semiconductor industry and our country," the SIA said in a statement.
"SIA extends its deepest sympathies to Steve’s family and the entire Micron community."
Appleton is also being mourned by the local community, including his alma mater Boise State University.
"Boise State lost one of its own today," said university president Bob Kustra.
"He played a critical role in transforming Boise State into a research university serving the tech economy of Idaho. I valued his friendship, his generous support, and especially the advice and counsel he provided me personally as we navigated our way through the recent recession."
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