Robert M. Jelenic, 58, of New Hope, former chairman of the Journal Register Co., died of cancer Wednesday.

Before resigning in 2007, Mr. Jelenic was the architect and driving force behind Journal Register, which owns 22 daily newspapers and 346 nondaily publications, and operates 227 Web sites. Its dailies in this region are the Trentonian, the Delaware County Daily Times, the West Chester Daily Local News, the Pottstown Mercury, the Norristown Times Herald, the Lansdale Reporter, and the Phoenixville Phoenix.

Mr. Jelenic, whose cancer was diagnosed in June 2005, continued to lead the Yardley-based company until taking a leave in June 2007 for medical treatment. When he resigned that November, he told his staff that his 32 years in the newspaper industry "have been extremely gratifying and rewarding."

A native of Canada, Mr. Jelenic was with the Toronto Sun Publishing Group for 12 years before becoming president of U.S. newspaper companies at Ingersoll Publications in 1988. Two years later he was named president and chief executive officer of the newly incorporated Journal Register. From 1993 to 1998 he oversaw 13 major acquisitions involving 12 daily newspapers, 117 nondaily publications, and three commercial printing companies. He became chairman of the board in 1997.

Like many newspaper companies, Journal Register is struggling. The New York Stock Exchange delisted it in April after its share price sank below $1.

Mr. Jelenic grew up in Sudbury, Ontario, and earned a bachelor's degree from Laurentian University there. He was quarterback on the Laurentian football team and later played for the semipro Sudbury Spartans.

He used the same strategies in business that he used as a quarterback, said his son, Lee. "He believed that you don't dwell on the last play or the last deal," his son said. "You don't look back. You look forward and remain positive."

Admitted to the Ontario Institute of Chartered Accountants in 1974, Mr. Jelenic worked for Arthur Andersen in Toronto for five years before entering the newspaper industry.

He coached his daughter's softball team in West Windsor, N.J., to the state semifinals and coached his son's Little League and ice hockey teams in Princeton. His son later played hockey for Yale University. He said his father had never missed a game.

An avid golfer, Mr. Jelenic was a member of the Jasna Polana Golf Club in Princeton.

Though he never forgot his northern Ontario roots, he was proud to be a U.S. citizen, his son said.

In addition to his son, Mr. Jelenic is survived by his wife, Joy; a daughter, Laine Nakfoor; parents Tom and Dana; a sister; a grandson; and his former wife, Sally.

Friends may call from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday at the Fluehr Funeral Home, 800 Newtown-Richboro Rd., Richboro, and after 10 a.m. Tuesday at St. John's United Methodist Church, 820 Almshouse Rd., Ivyland, where a funeral will begin at 11.

Memorial donations may be made to the Fox Chase Cancer Center, 333 Cottman Ave., Philadelphia 19111.

Contact staff writer Sally A. Downey at 215-854-2913 or sdowney@phillynews.com.