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Garmin co-founder Gary Burrell dies at 81

Published June 13, 2019

OLATHE, Kan. (BRAIN) — Gary Burrell, who co-founded Garmin Ltd. with Dr. Min Kao in 1989, died June 12 at age 81, the company announced.


Burrell retired in 2002 and continued to serve as Garmin's co-chairman until 2004 when he was named Chairman Emeritus.

Thirty years after its founding, Garmin has more than 13,000 associates in 60 offices around the world. 

"Gary Burrell has been my friend, mentor and partner for more than 30 years," Kao said. "His vision, values, engineering skills and commitment to serving our customers have been the foundation for the growth of our company. It has been both a great privilege and a blessing to have known this amazing man and I know his legacy will live on."

Garmin's current president and CEO, Cliff Pemble, was one of Burrell's first hires at the company.

"While Gary will be remembered by many as one of the great entrepreneurs of our age, I will remember the unusual way in which he led our company, something he called servant leadership," Pemble said. "Whether it was about creating the best product or his behavior as a leader, Gary always considered the impact to others before himself. His example not only inspired my contribution to Garmin, it also positively influenced me as a husband and father. I am forever grateful for the rich and enduring legacy of Gary Burrell."

Prior to launching Garmin, Burrell held leadership positions at marine and aviation electronics companies including Lowrance Electronics, King Radio Corporation and AlliedSignal. He is regarded as one of the leading innovators of integrated avionics, having designed and developed the first successful NAV/COMM for the general aviation market.

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