Robert M. Jelenic, the former chairman and chief executive officer of Journal Register Co., has died. He was 58.

Jelenic died Wednesday night after a three-year bout with cancer, Bill Higginson, a senior vice president at the company, told The Associated Press.

Jelenic spent more than three decades in the newspaper business and was considered the driving force at the Yardley-based company for 20 years before resigning in November 2007.

"My 32 years in the newspaper industry have been extremely gratifying and rewarding," Jelenic said at the time of his resignation.

Journal Register, whose flagship paper is the New Haven Register in Connecticut, went public in 1997, and the company's cash earnings reached their highest point the same year, with a 37 percent margin for earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.

Journal Register, which owns 22 daily newspapers and approximately 300 non-daily publications, now struggles under heavy debt accumulated from its numerous acquisitions, and its stock was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange earlier this year. On Wednesday, JRC stock was trading at less than a penny on the over-the-counter market, down from a peak of $23.875 a decade ago.

Jelenic grew up in Sudbury, Ontario, and graduated from Laurentian University in Ontario.

He is survived by his wife, Joy; son, Lee; and daughter, Laine.