In Memoriam 2003 –

Gary Little, a founding partner and CFO of Chicago-based private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners, died of lung cancer at the age of 52. Prior to co-founding Madison Dearborn in 1993, Little served for 15 years in the venture capital division of First Chicago Bank. He held an undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois and an MBA from the Illinois Institute of Technology. He left behind his wife Diane, sons Alfred and Michael, daughter Tracy and brothers Terrance and Barry.

Russell Epker, co-founder and retired managing director of Berkshire Partners, passed. He had cancer. He was 61 years old. Russ was one of the five former Thomas H. Lee & Co. investors who formed Boston-based Berkshire Partners in 1986. He retired from fulltime duties in June of 2000, yet continued to serve as an advisory director. Prior to Thomas H. Lee, Russ had operating experience at Ford Motor Co., Xerox Corp. and Tyco International Ltd.

A legend in both technology and venture capital circles, Eugene Kleiner described himself simply as an “engineer” until the day he died. Kleiner passed away at the age of 80. Kleiner co-founded Fairchild Semiconductor, which laid the foundation for Silicon Valley, then went on to co-found Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, which transformed the way venture capital is practiced. Kleiner retired from Kleiner Perkins in the 1980s, very likely missing out on some of the firm’s most successful funds, a friend says. However, Kleiner remained an active angel investor in startups like Biometric Imaging and Raven Technology.

John Sidgmore passed away at the age of 52. Sidgmore is best known as the Worldcom CEO who revealed the telecom giant’s accounting troubles in early 2002, just weeks after taking over the top post. He served as a venture partner with New Enterprise Associates, and as chairman and CEO of eCommerce Industries Inc., a New Enterprise Associates portfolio company based in Vienna, Va. A family spokesman says that Sidgmore died in a Washington, D.C. hospital from complications associated with acute pancreatitis.