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Honoring the Life of Gay Whitney

On June 28, the RFID industry lost someone who contributed a great deal to radio frequency identification, and we owe it to her to pause and reflect on all that she did.
By Mark Roberti
Jul 16, 2012We often get caught up in the drive to improve our businesses, achieve our goals, make our numbers and so forth. But every now and then, you receive a bit of news that makes you stop and take stock. Last month, I was informed that Gay Whitney, GS1 US' senior VP of industry engagement, was gravely ill with a rare form of cancer. She died a few days later. Gay was just 49 years old, with three teenage children. How do you make sense of news like this?

In case you didn't know Gay (born Elizabeth Gay Millson), she was smart, energetic and tireless in her pursuit of RFID standards that could foster collaboration and improve the way that companies conduct business. From 2006 to 2009, she was in charge of global strategy and standards development at EPCglobal, which is how I knew her. She helped shepherd in the entire set of Electronic Product Code (EPC) standards, from the tag-data standard to the EPC Information Services (EPCIS) standard.


Gay Whitney
Everyone who worked with Gay Whitney was impressed with her intelligence and skills. "Gay will be remembered as an esteemed colleague, a passionate defender of standards, a lovely person and a friend to all," says Dick Cantwell, former president of EPCglobal's board of governors. "She combined intelligence with purpose, in a classy and caring way. The industries she touched are better off today, as are all who came to know her."

Says Chris Diorio, a cofounder of Impinj, "Every memory I have of Gay Whitney is of someone always there, always ready and willing to help. She could solve problems that nobody else could, and lead when nobody else would. Her indomitable spirit guided our EPC industry through years of ups and downs, to the adoption we are seeing today. And she never lost faith. Her last words to me, just a few short days before she died, were 'I wish we were still out slaying dragons.' We have lost a leader, a friend, and a true gem of a person. I will miss her."

USER COMMENTS

Jamshed Dubash 2012-07-17 10:56:30 PM
A friend and admirer... Gay was a very special person in so many ways... I had the pleasure of working with Gay early in the EPC process and was always impressed with her ability to rise above the 'noise' and get the right things done. Besides being all the wonderful things that this article states - Gay was simply a wonderful human being. May your soul rest in peace Gay. You are missed... Ushta Te' Your friend, Jamshed
Mike OShea 2012-07-25 05:25:08 AM
Thank You Gay As outlined in the article, Gay's contributions to the industry were many. Her leadership came at a crticial time and will continue to inspire us all. Thank you Gay, you will be missed....Mike

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