By Martin Kidston

The chief executive officer of Blackfoot Telecommunications passed away last week after a brief illness, the company announced on Monday.

Bill Squires, who served with Blackfoot starting in 2001 as senior vice president and general counsel, was named CEO in January 2012.

His leadership, energy and commitment to the company's customers built Blackfoot into one of the region's leading providers of regional voice, data, cloud and IT services.

“We are devastated by this loss,” said Tom Eggensperger, president of Blackfoot’s Board of Trustees. “Bill’s leadership helped Blackfoot grow to its position of prominence and success, and he will be greatly missed.”

Jason Williams, Blackfoot’s chief operating officer, has been named as the company's interim CEO.

Williams has been with Blackfoot since 2012 and brings 20 years of telecommunications, business and legal experience to the role.

“With Jason’s leadership, Blackfoot won’t miss a beat in continuing to provide excellent technology solutions and services to its customers,” Eggensperger said.

Squires served as president of the Montana Telecommunications Association, the U.S. Telecom Association’s Leadership Committee, and the Industry & Policy Committee of the Rural Broadband Association.

“Bill was both a visionary and a leader in the telecommunications industry,” Blackfoot said in its release. “He was a trusted voice with state and federal policy makers and was a passionate advocate for Blackfoot. He also had incredible business acumen which served him well on a wide variety of boards.”

Squires served on the board of the Missoula Economic Partnership, among others.

“He was an integral advocate for responsible economic development in Missoula, a vital and engaged member of our community, and an example of compassion and integrity to those who were lucky enough to work with him. He will be greatly missed,” MEP said in a statement posted Monday.