Don Whitley Scientific founder dies age 89
The directors of Don Whitley Scientific are sad to announce that the company’s founder and chairman, Dr Don Whitley, died last week after a short illness.
Born in London in 1929, Don moved with his family to Leeds in 1940. He wanted to train as a doctor but was dissuaded from doing so by his parents, so instead joined the staff of the Hospital for Women in Leeds as a student medical laboratory technician.
In 1956 he joined Oxoid, now owned by Thermo Fisher Scientific, as a technical representative, covering North East England and, later, the Republic of Ireland. Other sales and technical roles in several companies culminated in his appointment as Technical Director of the Bydand Group.
In 1973 Don and a Bydand Group colleague formed LIP (Equipment and Services). In 1976, with the proceeds of the sale of his minority shareholding in LIP, Don and his wife Pam started Don Whitley Scientific in the spare bedroom and basement of their home in Shipley.
For over 15 years Don drove product development projects that resulted in numerous innovations and in the steady growth and development of the business. He ‘retired’ and became company chairman in 1992 when his son, Paul Walton, became managing director.
Don retained a strong interest in product development activities, attended key events and was consulted frequently, although he was no longer involved in the day-to-day management of the business. The company he founded now employs 89 staff and owns the majority shareholding in subsidiaries in Germany and Australia.
In 2009 Don was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science degree by the University of Bradford, acknowledging a lifetime of achievements in applied microbiology. Ironically, had he become a medical doctor he may not have contributed to improvements in public health and the understanding and treatment of cancer in anything like the same way as he did, through the company he founded.
Don was married three times and had seven children; his first wife and one son have predeceased him. Two sons, two grandsons and a great-grandson work within the company he founded. He requested that his body be left to medical research at the University of Nottingham Medical School.
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