“Hello - VITA, this is Lollie,” is what you heard when you called VITA. Lollie Wheeler was the voice answering the VITA phone for most of 30 years. Lollie was employee number three at VITA. She was good friends with Betty, who was in search of some assistance with the rapidly growing organization. Lollie immediately jumped in helping with whatever needed to be done.
The first edition of the VITA VMEbus Compatible Products Directory was published in 1985. 174 companies and more than 2,700 products were listed in that first edition. Lollie was the go-to person for this new VITA product directory. This directory was printed four times per year; with all the new products and companies joining the VMEbus boom, there was plenty of work to be done with each edition. Collecting inputs and vetting each of them was a tireless task carried out by Lollie with each edition. Eventually the printed directory went paperless on the emerging internet where VITA was an early pioneer. When the directory went on-line the quarterly printed publishing became obsolete. However there still remained much to be done as each entry had to be approved, updates made to the database, and members reminded to keep their content fresh.
The staff grew, leadership changed, and Lollie emerged as the behind the scenes manager of VITA. Members knew her as the go to person for questions about memberships and dues, product directory inputs and changes, assistance in obtaining copies of specifications, and any other miscellaneous requests that came her way. Lollie followed each request to its satisfactory conclusion, never leaving items unresolved.
Lollie managed the accounting, responded to requests for VITA standards, and scheduled countless VITA Standards Organization (VSO) meetings. Lollie kept a very low profile but she has had her finger on the pulse of the organization throughout the years. Behind the scenes she ensured that the member dues were collected, which could be a full-time job in itself. She made sure that standards were delivered anywhere in the world. And that the VSO meetings ran smoothly. Coordinating the logistics for six VSO meetings each year in hotels all over the country was a challenge with all the conditions that hotels put on achieving your numbers for the meetings, let alone ensuring that all the attendees are satisfied.
Ray Alderman frequently refered to John Rynearson as the “Brains” of VITA, himself as the “Muscle”, and Lollie as the “Heart”. Anyone that has ever had the opportunity to engage with Lollie will certainly agree with that analogy.