Bruce Nairn Whitman
Bruce Nairn Whitman, Chairman, President & CEO of FlightSafety International, passed away peacefully at his Greenwich, CT home on October 10th with family by his side.
Born in New York City on August 4, 1933 to Stewart Lane and Josephine MacQueen Whitman, he graduated from Kent School in 1951 and Trinity College in 1955, where he played on the varsity tennis team for three years. While attending Trinity, Bruce spent two summers as a seaman with the United States Merchant Marine. After college, he was commissioned a lieutenant in the United States Air Force and earned the triple ratings of pilot, navigator and bombardier serving in the Strategic Air Command. In 1957, Bruce was appointed Assistant to the Commander, Homestead Air Force Base. After active duty, he attended George Washington University Law School for two years. While at GWU, he flew as a Captain for East Coast Flying Service and was a pilot in the Air Force Reserve.
Bruce joined FlightSafety International in 1961 as Assistant to the President after two years as Senior Executive Assistant with the National Business Aircraft Association. Later that year, he was elected Vice President and a Director of the company. In 1962, he was named Executive Vice President. He was promoted to CEO in 2003. Bruce was proud of leading FlightSafety until his passing.
Patriotism and support of the military and its veterans were Bruce’s highest passions. He was instrumental in passing legislation establishing that all current armed forces members and veterans, uniformed or not, may render the military-salute to the United States flag, when it is raised or lowered, passes by, or when the national anthem is played. He was Chairman of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, a founding member and Trustee of the National World War II Museum, Chairman of the Metropolitan New York USO and a Director of Business Executives for National Security. In addition to his patriotic leadership, Bruce was President Emeritus of Wings Club Foundation; and Director of: Flight Safety Foundation, Orbis International, Corporate Angel Network, Civil Air Patrol, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, and the Air Force Academy Falcon Foundation. Bruce was a long-time Trustee of Kent School.
Bruce received many honors including: Distinguished Service Award USO of Metropolitan New York, Medal of Honor Society Dynamic Leadership Award, Exceptional Service Award Air Force Association, Medaille de l’Aeronautique Republic of France, and the Living Legends of Aviation Lifetime Aviation Industry Leader Award. He was inducted as a Living Legend of Aviation in 2014.
A devoted husband, father and grandfather, Bruce pursued a wide variety of interests. He was an avid collector of WWII memorabilia and model airplanes. An accomplished fisherman, he most enjoyed trolling for bluefish and striped bass on Long Island Sound in his Bertram with family and friends. An annual, perpetual fishing tournament was named in Bruce’s honor as “The Whitman Cup” at Belle Haven Club in Greenwich, CT, where he served as Commodore.
Bruce is survived by his wife Sarah “Winki” and his sons Bruce N. Whitman Jr., Stewart L. Whitman II (Colleen) and John N. Whitman (Susan); and Winki’s children: Wendy Miller (David), Christy Tripp and Ted Walther (Abel). Bruce is also survived by his grandchildren: Susan Sam Whitman, Kathleen Whitman, Denise “Didi” Whitman, Lane Whitman, Juliann Whitman, Natalie Whitman and Sonia Whitman; and Winki’s grandchildren: Alex Tripp, Ben Tripp, Trey Miller and Grady Miller; great grandchild Stone; and sister Josephine Gray.