Lew Platt January 23, 2007
Lewis (Lew) Platt, one of the country's leading technology business leaders and a member of the SETI Institute's Board of Trustees since May, 2002, unexpectedly passed away on September 8th at the age of 64. The cause of death was an aneurysm.
Platt was best known for his tenure as Chairman of the Board, President, and CEO of Hewlett-Packard Company. This was the culmination of a long association with H-P: he joined the company's medical-product operations soon after graduating from Cornell University and the Wharton School of Business (University of Pennsylvania). When David Packard retired as H-P's Board Chairman in 1993, Platt was named to take his place. He was CEO for seven years, and during this time H-P was named the best-performing U.S. corporation by Forbes magazine.
From 1999 on, Platt served as a member of the Board of the Boeing Company, and from 2003 until the Spring of this year, he was its non-executive Chairman.
Despite his substantial commitments to major corporations, Lew Platt was a very active member of the SETI Institute's Board. He contributed managerial expertise to the organization, as well as business insights that helped the Institute to function and garner support more effectively.
A booming presence during meetings, Platt was notable for his exceptional ability to listen to all sides of an issue, and then quickly sift out the best components of an idea. He found practical solutions, rather than dwelling on possible problems. For Lew, the glass was always half full or better.
SETI Institute CEO Tom Pierson said that “Lew was the type of friend and mentor that constantly provided wisdom and calm. The loss is a shock.”
Institute Board member Al Bagley, who served as the General Manager of the Santa Clara Division of Hewlett-Packard, states that it was a privilege to know Platt. “I was so impressed by the greatness of him, his generosity, his sense of humor, and his absolute integrity. Busy as he was, he was always willing to do one more thing.”
We will miss Lew's energetic and insightful participation in our organization. More than that, we will miss Lew.