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David F. Smith is retiring as executive chairman of the board of National Fuel, effective April 1, a move that brings to an end his 36-year career as an employee of the Amherst-based energy company and public utility, National Fuel announced this morning.

Smith, 60, will remain as chairman of the board and will not be replaced as executive chairman, said Karen Merkel, a National Fuel spokesman.

Smith’s retirement is a continuation of the succession plans first put into effect last March, when National Fuel announced that Ronald J. Tanski, then the company’s president and chief operating officer, would take over as CEO from Smith.

Tanski, who retained the title of president, has overseen the company’s day-to-day operations since then and will continue in that role, Merkel said.

Smith joined National Fuel in 1978 and was CEO from February 2008 until last March. He was elected to the company’s board of directors in 2007 and was named chairman in 2010.

He previously served as president of National Fuel Gas Supply Corporation, National Fuel Gas Distribution Corporation, Empire Pipeline and National Fuel Resources.