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Former Pinnacle Airlines CEO Philip Trenary Shot and Killed in Memphis


Philip Trenary, CEO of the Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce and former CEO of regional airlines Pinnacle, was shot and killed by an unknown assailant Thursday night.

Trenary, 64, was a popular civic leader in the Memphis community, widely known for his role in leading Pinnacle to become a $1 billion company between 1997 and 2011.

According to the Associated Press, Trenary was alone when he was shot on South Front St. around 8 p.m., near where the chamber was holding its annual “Move it Memphis” 4-mile run. He died later at Regional One Health hospital.

“It is still unknown whether this was a robbery or a personal vendetta,” said Memphis police spokeswoman Karen Rudolph.

AP reports that police are on the lookout for “a black male with dreadlocks, wearing a blue shirt and driving a white four-door Ford F150.”

Prior to leading Pinnacle, Trenary founded Exec Express Airlines in his home state of Oklahoma in 1984. The company later moved to Texas, where it was renamed Lone Star Airlines. He moved to Memphis in 1997.

Three years after leaving the airline industry in 2011, Trenary was named president and CEO of the Memphis Chamber of Commerce, where he created the Chairman’s Circle, a group of business leaders working towards improving the community. He was also a leader in supporting minorities, women, and locally owned businesses, the Tennessean reports.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland tweeted that he is “shocked at the senseless loss” of Trenary.

Trenary was a “civic leader and businessman … extremely important to the City of Memphis,” said U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, in a statement. “He was totally immersed in the Memphis community, both as a celebrant and as a contributor.”

Trenary is survived by his wife, Bridget, and their three children.