To write that Whitney McCleary loved to read books would be an understatement. She devoured them with a passion. Yet she was just as passionate about reading people as pages.
“She had this true empathetic connection with people. She put others ahead of herself, and even though her life was very full, when she was with you, she gave you 1000 percent of her attention, as if you were the only person in the room,” reflects her husband, Joseph King.
Maybe that’s why when Whitney McCleary passed away on Dec. 31, 2013 at 51 years of age, hundreds of people filled rooms in Seattle and San Jose to say good-bye and thank her for being so “there” for them.
In 2001, Whitney was diagnosed with primary biliary cirrhosis, a rare, progressive degenerative liver disease. Her time—“Whitney Standard Time” as a close friend affectionately termed it—became even more precious. In spite of that, she continued to generously give of herself. Her empathy for others translated to her support for three causes in particular: Northwest Harvest, the Pride Foundation and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“Whitney felt strongly it was essential that all people be treated equally and fairly,” Joe recalls. “She saw the big picture policy part and also the food bank, ‘on the ground’ part. People who didn’t have what it took to keep food on the table, for whatever reason.”
Professionally, Whitney won awards for authoring technical and multimedia software books, helped launch products such as Adobe InDesign, and created and managed the marketing for such programs. Whitney was honored with the 2008 Founders’ Award at Adobe—a global, peer-nominated award—for her significant impact on the company. One of Whitney’s friends at Adobe, Carol Noteboom, recalls she delighted in others and was a delight to be with. “Her impact made us all reflect on our own lives.”
Inspired by Whitney, Adobe, the Adobe Foundation, and Adobe employees together have raised nearly $12,000 for hunger relief. We expect even more friends and family will contribute in the coming months.
“This is so wonderful,” said Dee Christoff, Director of Donor Relations. “One of the best parts of my job is seeing the ways generous people give to our organization. Sometimes it’s in the form of planned giving such as a will. Other times, it’s a spontaneous celebration of someone’s life as a way to honor causes close to their heart.”
Whitney jokingly referred to herself as the “Empress” of Adobe and many agreed. So “long live the Empress.” We will honor Whitney McCleary’s generosity every day, through the work we do and the lives we touch. Whitney would appreciate that.