FARGO — Craig Whitney, president and CEO of the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce, died Saturday, Dec. 14.
An obituary posted by West Funeral Home said the 59-year-old West Fargo resident died at Sanford Health-Broadway.
Whitney battled health problems for months and was slated to enter hospice care around the time he died. He mentioned his battle with illness at the Chamber’s annual awards meeting on Sept. 12, but he did not elaborate.
After starting at the Chamber in January 2010, Whitney brought together a coalition of more than 2,000 public, private and nonprofit entities in his nearly 10 years with the organization.
Whitney's knack for networking allowed him to spark growth for the Chamber.
"His ability to bring his community together" was what made him so special, said Jon Riewer, CEO of Eventide Senior Living Communities and a friend of Whitney.
As leader of the Chamber, Whitney pushed for the reform of special assessments, was a strong proponent for supporting area schools and worked to attract and retain new residents to strike a balance in the local job market.
He frequently submitted letters to The Forum to offer insight into the Chamber's goals and actions, and he was known to make time to listen to anyone who disagreed or wanted to know more.
“The other thing I really admire about him, is he takes the extra time to visit one on one, understand where people are coming from, what their issues are, and I think that’s why he’s been so successful as a Chamber leader for our community,” Riewer said.
Before arriving in the Fargo area, Whitney served eight years as chief of staff to the chairman of Cerberus Capital Management, who is former Vice President Dan Quayle.
Before that, Whitney served just over two years as vice president for public affairs for the Greater Phoenix (Ariz.) Chamber of Commerce. He also worked with the Atlanta Olympic Committee as director of guest services and special events.
Last December, Whitney reminisced about his time working for President George H.W. Bush during his campaign.
“I think he’ll go down in history as one of our best presidents,” Whitney said at the time.
The Iowa native worked for Bush during the lead-up to the Iowa Caucus. In 1988, he accepted a position as assistant press secretary for Vice President Quayle. He was later promoted to assistant to the vice president and director of advance.
Visitation and service arrangement for Whitney are pending.