03/10/2003 1:00AM

Rockingham head Carney dead


SALEM, N.H. - Joseph E. Carney Jr., president and co-owner of Rockingham Park, died Sunday after a long illness. He was 70.

As a founder of Rockingham Venture Inc., Carney and his partners rebuilt Rockingham in 1984 after a fire destroyed the grandstand in 1980.

Under Carney's management, Rockingham expanded through the 1980's, most notably with the installation of a turf course. In 1991, Carney helped create the $500,000 New England Classic to be a part of the short-lived American Championship Racing Series. He also helped return the New Hampshire Sweepstakes to prominence as a midsummer grass racing event.

Carney was prominent in his work to create assistance programs for industry workers and backside employees. He was also involved in numerous Standardbred and greyhound tracks.

Carney is survived by his wife, Jill; three daughters, Kathleen, Mary, and Ellen; two sons, Joseph III and James; five grandchildren; two sisters, Joan O'Donnell and Mary Linnehan; two brothers, Dr. Thomas Carney and Daniel Carney; and many nieces and nephews.