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Friday, April 23, 1993 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Frank Gaudette, Flamboyant Financial Officer At Microsoft

When Frank Gaudette showed up as a guest speaker at the Seattle Society of Financial Analysts meeting a couple of years ago, he was introduced as the oldest employee at Microsoft Corp. - and its best racquetball player.

That intensity helped Mr. Gaudette orchestrate the phenomenal financial growth of the Redmond software giant.

The 57-year-old, Microsoft's chief financial officer, died early today at Virginia Mason Hospital, after battling lymphatic cancer for about nine months.

Mr. Gaudette also served with Steve Ballmer and Mike Maples as executive vice presidents of the software company.

The colorful executive guided Microsoft's public stock offering in 1986 and was highly respected in the financial community.

Seattle stock analyst Bill Whitlow of Pacific Crest Securities noted that while Microsoft's chairman, Bill Gates, developed winning products and marketing strategies, Mr. Gaudette "was the guy in charge of making it happen and doing it profitably."

Mr. Gaudette joined Microsoft in September 1984, moving over from a senior executive position at C3, a Reston, Va., software supplier.

At the end of 1985, Microsoft had profits of $24 million on sales of $140 million. By the end of 1992, profits were $708 million on sales of $2.8 billion.

"You can look at the numbers and what Microsoft has been able to do has been phenomenal on the financial side," Whitlow said. "I think Frank was the key factor to that."

Mr. Gaudette, a New York transplant, was known for his show-stopping presentations at Microsoft annual meetings.

In 1992, he donned a dollar-sign-embossed robe, boxing gloves, shorts and gold "World Champ" belt buckle to appear as Rocky Balboa.

Earlier, he had done an Alfred Hitchcock skit, sung a Blues Brothers routine and even appeared as the "Great Gaudetti" and was shot out of a cannon.

Though born and raised in Astoria, Queens, he left Fordham University to attend Southern Methodist University in Dallas. After graduating from SMU, he worked at Frito Lay, Rockwell International Informatics General and C3 before joining Microsoft.

"Frank combined the street-smart wisdom of his New York roots with the knowledge he gained from his decades of experience," Gates said today.

"Over the years, I have counted on Frank for the wisdom of his counsel and the strength of his leadership.

"He will be greatly missed."

He is survived by his widow, Doris, of Kirkland, and their children, Megan, 13, and Gavin, 10. Other offspring include Sean, of North Bend; Maureen Kirk, of Boston, and Timothy, of Baltimore.

Another son, Michael, died in an auto accident in 1987.

Other family members include his mother, Florence Gaudett, of Astoria, New York; two brothers, Dennis Gaudett, of Richmond, Va., and Patrick Gaudett, of New York City; and a sister, Eileen Palumbo, of New Jersey.

Arrangements for memorial services were not yet finalized. They will be made by Bonney-Watson.

Family members requested memorials go to the Pacific Science Center or the American Cancer Society.

Copyright (c) 1993 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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