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Charles F. Knight dies; longtime Emerson CEO was 81

Charles Knight, who led the technology and engineering

Charles Knight, who led the technology and engineering company Emerson as CEO from 1973 to 2004, increased the firm's annual revenue from $1 billion to $15 billion. Photo Credit: The LIFE Images Collection/Getty / Suzanne Opton

ST. LOUIS — Charles F. Knight, who led a period of tremendous growth as CEO of the technology and engineering company Emerson for nearly three decades, has died.

A spokesman for the St. Louis County-based company says Knight died Tuesday at an area hospital of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 81.

Knight was just 37 when he joined Emerson as chief executive in 1973. He retired as CEO in 2000 but remained as chairman of the board until 2004.

During his tenure as CEO, Emerson’s annual revenue grew from $1 billion to $15 billion, the product line diversified and international operations grew. The company is ranked 139th among the Fortune 500, with 74,000 employees worldwide.

Knight is survived by his wife, Joanne; four children; 12 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

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