Curtis Sampson, a telecommunications industrialist who reopened Canterbury Park in 1994 after it had been idle for 15 months, died Thursday at age 87.

Under Sampson and his son, Randy, Canterbury has enjoyed a successful, 26-year run. The track had gone through a tailspin after opening in 1985 and closed in 1992.

Randy Sampson made a plan to save it, and Curt Sampson and South St. Paul businessman Dale Shenian helped buy the track from then-owner Irwin Jacobs.

"I could have lost it all," Curt Sampson told the Star Tribune last year. "But it looked like we had a shot to make it work. And right away, it did. I never lost a minute of sleep."

Curt Sampson also founded and helped grow several multimillion dollar telecommunications companies, all while operating from his hometown of Hector, Minn., where he was born in 1933.

After graduating from the University of Minnesota in 1955, he spent three months as an accountant in Minneapolis before returning to Hector. He founded Minnesota Central Telephone and Communications Systems Inc. (CSI), and Hector Communications Corporation, which he sold in 2006.