Cerner Corporation (Nasdaq: CERN) announced today that Neal Patterson, chairman and CEO, passed away on Sunday due to unexpected complications that arose after a recent recurrence of a previously disclosed cancer. Cerner Co-Founder and Vice Chairman of the Board Cliff Illig has been named chairman and interim CEO.
In the 38 years since co-founding Cerner, Illig has served as Patterson’s partner and close advisor, including decades spent as Cerner’s president and chief operating officer.
“This is a profound loss. Neal and I have been partners and collaborators for nearly 40 years, and friends for longer than that,” Illig said. “Neal loved waking up every morning at the intersection of health care and IT. His entrepreneurial passion for using IT as a lever to eliminate error, variance, delay, waste and friction changed our industry."
The Cerner Board of Directors has had a longstanding succession plan in place. The process to select a new CEO is nearing a conclusion.
“One of Neal’s enduring ambitions for Cerner was to build a visionary company, not just a company with a visionary," Illig said. “He has done that. We have what I believe is the best management team in health IT, and we have associates who think as much about the future as they do the present. As a result, Cerner is well-positioned to have a pioneering impact on the provision of health care in the years to come.”
In addition to serving as Chairman and CEO of Cerner, Patterson was a principal investor in the five-person OnGoal LLC, the group that purchased Sporting Kansas City, formerly the Kansas City Wizards, from Hunt Sports Group in 2006. Patterson helped transform Sporting KC into a model Major League Soccer franchise over the last decade. His visionary approach and commitment to innovation was manifested through the construction of state-of-the-art Children’s Mercy Park, Swope Soccer Village, Wyandotte Sporting Fields, as well as the National Training and Coaching Development Center which will open this winter.
Under Patterson’s ownership, Sporting Kansas City has experienced tremendous success on the field, winning the 2013 MLS Cup and 2012 and 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cups while advancing to the playoffs every season since 2011. His investment in the Sporting Kansas City Academy, the United Soccer League’s Swope Park Rangers and the Sporting Club Network has strengthened the organization’s soccer influence throughout the region.
“Like Ewing Kauffman and Lamar Hunt, Neal was a truly iconic sports entrepreneur in Kansas City,” Sporting Kansas City President Jake Reid said. “His commitment to the Kansas City Wizards in 2006 saved soccer in this city and paved the way for an incredible transformation that few could have envisioned at the time. Through his dedication to first-class facilities, community-driven initiatives and an unparalleled fan experience at Children’s Mercy Park, Sporting KC has blossomed into a crown jewel of Major League Soccer. He regularly celebrated the team’s success with his family and took great pride in all of his sports endeavors.”
“Major League Soccer deeply mourns the passing of Neal Patterson,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said. “Neal’s vision and passion were instrumental in the incredible turnaround of Sporting Kansas City. He was a brilliant entrepreneur who made community relations and philanthropy essential components of every business he owned. We extend our condolences to Neal’s family and friends, the Sporting Kansas City organization, and their fans.”