When state Sen. Jack McGregor launched efforts to bring a National Hockey League team to Pittsburgh in the late 1960s, he approached some of the city's heavy hitters about investing in the venture.
Coal executive Charles H. Muse Jr., a Ben Avon Heights native, was among them. And though Mr. Muse, 77, hadn't owned a stake in the Penguins for decades, he remained a rabid fan until his death Thursday of lymphoma, family members said.
"If there was a hockey game, that's what we did," his wife, Karen Andersen Muse, said.
In a statement Saturday, the day the Penguins and Boston Bruins met in game one of the Eastern Conference final, team spokesman Tom McMillan said Mr. Muse will "always be remembered for his contributions to the Penguins. We offer our sympathy to his family."
Mr. Muse was born April 14, 1936, a son of Charles H. Sr. and Elizabeth Vinton Muse. He graduated from Shady Side Academy about 1954 and Penn State University, where he majored in geology, about 1958.
He married Karen Cormack Muse. The couple had three children before divorcing. He later married Karen Andersen Muse, with whom he lived Downtown and in Village of Golf, Fla.
After college, Mr. Muse joined Green Tree-based Crown Coal and Coke Co., a business established by his father in 1920. Mr. Muse's grandfather, Charles A. Muse, who was an executive in Henry Clay Frick's coke conglomerate and the person for whom the Washington County village of Muse was named, also worked for the company at one point.
Mr. Muse was a world traveler and a supporter of Heritage Valley Sewickley, the Sewickley Valley YMCA and Alcoholics Anonymous, among other organizations.
He had a strong work ethic and tried to work even when lymphoma had sapped his strength, said his son, Chip Muse, a Sewickley resident who is president of Crown Coal and Coke.
Mr. Muse was successful in business and devoted to civic affairs, but modest about both, longtime friend and golfing companion Phil Kreis of West Deer said. He was also a "pretty darned good" golfer, Mr. Kreis said.
When the National Hockey League mounted an expansion campaign in the 1960s, McGregor, the East Hills senator, put together a group of 20 or so investors. Besides Mr. Muse, the group included Art Rooney Sr., Henry Hillman and John Heinz III, according to an account at pittsburghhockey.net.
The team played its first game in October 1967. Chip Muse said his father viewed the investment less as a business opportunity than a way to indulge his love of the game.
"It didn't flourish for a long time," he said of the team. He said he believed his father held an ownership interest until the 1970s.
Mr. Muse also is survived by another son, James G. Muse of Squirrel Hill; a daughter, Amy M. Lang of Sewickley; three stepchildren, Thomas S. Robinson of Denver, Kirsten Robinson King of Akron, Ohio, and St. Claire Okie Oliver of Sewickley; and nine grandchildren and six stepgrandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. next Sunday at The Presbyterian Church, Sewickley.
Joe Smydo: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1548.