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Moment of Silence: Fred J. Whyte
Nov. 1, 1946 - July 7, 2017


In addition to serving as the president of an outdoor power equipment manufacturer for 23 years, Fred Whyte was one of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute's longest serving board members, including acting as chair. Whyte is seen here with Lucky the TurfMutt.

Fred Whyte, former president of STIHL Inc., passed away July 7, 2017 surrounded by his family at his home in Virginia Beach, Va., after a battle with an aggressive form of cancer. He was 70 years old.

A native of Vancouver, British Columbia, Whyte began his career with the outdoor power equipment manufacturer in 1971 and became president of the company in 1992. He retired in 2015 and was named sole director and chairman of the company's board of directors.

Whyte was also a well-respected leader of both the outdoor power equipment industry nationwide and the local Hampton Roads community. He served as chairman of the board of directors for the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) and president of the Portable Power Equipment Manufacturers Association (PPEMA).

"Fred was a leader in the truest sense of the word, a friend and mentor to me. I routinely sought Fred's guidance and direction," said Kris Kiser, president & CEO of OPEI. "He sought solutions and fundamentally understood compromise in the furtherance of consensus. This is a genuine skill and key in operating a successful trade association of competitors. We will miss him."

"He was tough, smart, intuitive and just plain fun to be around," said Kiser. "He had a terrific sense of humor and infectious laugh. He was a solid, decent, caring man."

In 2015, the Virginia Manufacturers Association (VMA) recognized Whyte with the Frank Armstrong III Service Award for his contributions to the Virginia manufacturing sector and the association. He was also named honorary member of the Equipment Dealers Association (EDA). In 2016, Whyte was honored by the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates with a joint resolution outlining his success.

He was a member of Old Dominion University's board of visitors and served as rector from 2013-2014. He also served on the Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters Children's Health Foundation board of directors. During his retirement Whyte stated, "I often say history is a great business teacher. And after working for more than four decades in this industry, I can confirm that substance wins out over style, every time."

Whyte was an avid sports fan, outdoor enthusiast and like many of Scottish heritage, played the bagpipes. He is survived by his wife Karen, their two children, Jean and John (wife Stacy) and their twin granddaughters, Klarise and Isla.

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January 22, 2019, 12:01 pm PST

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