Kay Whitmore, who steered Eastman Kodak Co. through three painful years before being fired in 1993 for failing to move fast enough to slash the company's bloated costs, died Monday. He was 72.
Whitmore was diagnosed with leukemia about a month ago.
A chemical engineer by training, Whitmore joined Kodak in 1957 and worked his way up through its film business over the next 25 years. He was elected president in 1983 and succeeded Colby Chandler as chairman and chief executive in June 1990.
His grip on the helm came under intense pressure in April 1993 when Christopher Steffen, hired months earlier from the outside to be chief financial officer, abruptly quit because of apparent disagreements with him over how to improve Kodak's flagging financial performance.
Whitmore was ousted in August 1993 by Kodak's board, which complained that he had not acted swiftly enough to lower costs and improve earnings. Two weeks later, Kodak moved to eliminate 10,000 jobs, or about 10 percent of its work force.
A native of Salt Lake City and a lifelong Mormon, Whitmore traveled to England the year after his dismissal to run a Mormon mission.