The directors of Don Whitley Scientific have announced the death, on 28 February after a short illness, of Don Whitley, founder and chairman of the company. Taking a keen interest in the company’s product development projects up until a few weeks before his death, Don would have celebrated his 90th birthday this coming June.
Don wanted to train as a doctor, but was dissuaded from doing so by his parents. He initially joined the staff of the Hospital for Women in Leeds as a student Medical Laboratory Technician, and for 10 years worked at Leeds Maternity Hospital and Killingbeck Hospital.
In 1956 Don joined Oxoid, now owned by ThermoFisher 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) Ltd. Then, 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. 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.