LAS VEGASThe day before CTIA was to kick off its pre-conference sessions ahead of its biggest trade show of the year, the association was stunned with the loss of long-time executive Mark Desautels, who died of an apparent heart attack on Monday afternoon.

The news hit the industry hard. Desautels, 56, for years has been a key figure in the Wireless Internet Caucus (WIC), an initiative focused on issues affecting the once-emerging and now growing wireless Internet segment. At CTIA, he served as vice president of Wireless Internet Development.

CTIA President and CEO Steve Largent issued a statement this morning, saying Desautels was an outstanding employee, a dear friend and valuable colleague to everyone at CTIA. “His insight and forward-thinking were tremendous assets as he led several key industry business development initiatives, and I know he will be missed terribly. On behalf of CTIA—The Wireless Association’s staff and our members, we send our condolences to his family, especially his three daughters Alexandra, Meredith and Theresa. They will be in our thoughts and prayers.”

Desautels joined CTIA in 1998, and his primary responsibility was to oversee the activities of WIC. He also developed the educational sessions and selected speakers for the association’s two annual trade shows.

Desautels joined CTIA after serving as president and CEO of the Wireless Data Forum, and prior to that, he worked in the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and before that, as a business and economics reporter for a chain of business news weeklies.

No funeral arrangements had been made as of this morning.

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