Orlando, FL – The trade show industry is stunned and deeply saddened by the sudden death of Gary Sain, CEO of Visit Orlando, who collapsed and died Friday night of an apparent heart attack. He was 61.
Sain was stricken at a fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Club of Central Florida and pronounced dead at a nearby hospital, according to Visit Orlando Chairman Paul Tang. Sain had just returned from ASAE’s Springtime held Thursday, May 3 in Washington, DC, where he was his usual lively and energetic self.
“As the leader of Visit Orlando, Gary served as our community’s brand ambassador working tirelessly on behalf of Orlando and the entire travel and tourism industry,” said Tang. “He was honored numerous times for his contributions. The Visit Orlando team, our destination partners and our community have lost a wonderful leader and friend. He will truly be missed.”
In an article in today’s Orlando Sentinel, Tang said Sain was diligent about his health and paid particular attention to diet and exercise. “This comes as a shock to everyone,” he said, adding that an autopsy would be performed to determine the cause of death.
Sain joined Visit Orlando in 2007 and was previously partner and Chief Marketing officer of the tourism marketing company Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown & Russell, now known as Y Partnership. He also headed up marketing at GES, now Global Experience Specialists (GES).
Sain was an active fixture in the exhibition industry and served on the boards of directors of the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE), Meeting Professionals International (MPI) and Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA). He also served on Trade Show Executive’s Exposition Forecasting Board.
The Family Legacy
Sain is survived by his wife, Pam, and two adult daughters, as well as his mother and two brothers. His father, Frank Sain, passed away three months ago after a long battle with cancer [read more at http://www.tradeshowexecutive.com/TheVault.asp under February 14]. Frank Sain headed up two leading CVBs during his career – the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority and the Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau. Together with Gary’s leadership at the Orlando CVB, the Sain family’s legacy is their incredible class and skill in directing the CVBs of the nation’s three largest trade show cities.
In a eulogy to his father on February 15, Gary Sain said, “We will strive as his family to live his memory fully by making each day count and never taking for granted tomorrow will come. We all come into this world ordinary and it’s how we live our lives, how we serve those we are responsible for and how we love others that determines if we leave this world extraordinary.”
Gary lived 79 days after that touching eulogy, and truly left an indelible mark on the trade show and tourism industry as an extraordinary leader. Farewell, dear friend.
Reach Susan Lomax, vice president of global publicity at Susan.Lomax@visitorlando.com
Note: TSE will post information about funeral arrangements when they become available.