Thomas "Al" Whitley
February 25, 1956 – August 1, 2020
Al Whitley SAN DIEGO—Al Whitley, MBA, AIA, 64--CEO & Founder of Virtual Design & Construction Institute (VDCI) of San Diego, California, passed away unexpectedly at home early Saturday morning, August 1, 2020.
SERVICE: Al’s wish was to be buried with his mother and maternal grandparents in Portsmouth, Virginia. Because of Covid-19, a public memorial will not be held.
Al was born February 25, 1956, in Portsmouth, Virginia. He attended Churchland High School in Portsmouth, and in 1977, graduated from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Al began his career as a U.S. Naval Supply Corps officer, but he always wanted to be an architect. Al was stationed at the Naval Amphibious Base in Coronado, California when he left the Navy after about five years of active duty. He went to work for his first architectural employer who hired him due to his strong computer skills. He was one of the first architectural interns in San Diego to use AutoCAD 1.0. In 1989, Al founded his AIA (American Institute of Architects) award-winning San Diego-based architectural practice, Whitley Consulting Group.
By 1991, Al had become a licensed architect, earned his MBA from San Diego State University in Information Systems, and he developed the AutoCAD curriculum for the University of California San Diego. In 1997, Al founded cadteacher as an extension of the client support services of his architectural practice. In 2002, cadteacher and UC San Diego integrated their educational programs under Al’s leadership. Cadteacher continued to grow as an independent educational institution, and was the first nationally-accredited Autodesk Training Center in North America, as well as approved as an AIA continuing education provider. Cadteacher’s other accreditations include ACCET (Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training), the U.S. Department of Education, Certiport Authorized Testing Center, CalJobs, San Diego Workforce Partnership, and others. In 2011, cadteacher updated its name to Virtual Design & Construction Institute (VDCI).
The bedrock principle that guided Al’s life was the self-imposed responsibility to make a positive difference in the lives of those around him. Al spent his professional career finding, hiring, and mentoring smart, young, and ambitious professionals in the architectural, engineering and construction industries. His office culture was developed as an extension of Al’s personality, including the office gags and comradery; but under the surface Al’s greatest gift was training, encouraging, and empowering his staff. Many of the staff from Whitley Consulting Group, cadteacher, and VDCI began their careers under Al’s guidance, and would identify Al’s leadership as the key to their professional journey. Al reveled in the successes of the many careers that he could claim to having played a part in launching.
Al’s all-time favorite project was building a retreat/home in the Cuyamaca mountains near his home in San Diego. He was able to incorporate some of his favorite design themes from The Ahwahnee in Yosemite National Park, as well as elements from the National Park lodges at Bryce Canyon, Zion and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Al loved being taken back in time, enjoying a slower pace and spending time with his husband Ted in the mountains.
Al served as the 2020 Secretary/Treasurer of the AIA San Diego Region Board of Directors, and was Chairman of the Autodesk Training Center Leadership Council for North America. From 2013 through 2019, Al was San Diego Regional Chairman of the Rolls Royce Owners’ Club, and for more than 10 years has served as Secretary of the North Peak Property Owners’ Association.
Al was preceded in death by his mother, Lynette Gunnell Whitley, in-laws John W. and Nancy J. Struck, maternal grandparents H. Leroy and Kathleen B. Gunnell, and brother-in-law J. Kenneth McCarty.
SURVIVORS: Al is survived by his husband, Ted Struck; sister, Karen McCarty of Fort Worth, Texas; brother-in laws Larry Struck of Camp Hill, Pennsylvania and Doug Struck of Boston, Massachusetts; nephews and nieces David McCarty, Stephen McCarty, Jack Henry Struck, and Julianna Struck.
MEMORIALS: In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be made to the “Al Whitley Memorial Scholarship Fund." This scholarship fund (a 501(c)(3) organization) has been established to continue Al’s legacy of making a positive difference in the lives of others by encouraging promising students to pursue their professional journeys. Selected students will be provided scholarships for enrollment at Virtual Design & Construction Institute (VDCI), which will enhance their knowledge of software applications in architectural practices, and will provide additional career opportunities for the next generation of architects and engineers. Tax deductible contributions can be made at www.alwhitleymemorial.org or click on the link below.
- Al Whitley Memorial Scholarship Fund
Thomas "Al" Whitley
Lynn Sloane Bemiller
June 16, 2021
I just read of Al's passing in the W&M Alumni Magazine. Our freshman year, Al and I were two of a group of 10 close friends who hung out and survived the transition to adulthood together.
I still have a photo of Al doing his best Carol Channing impersonation, and it still makes me laugh. He was one of a kind!
Rest in peace, my old friend.
April 16, 2021
Oh, Al, how my heart is sore, but how much my memories are rich with remembering our times with you and Sandy at breakfasts in Mission Valley and the times at AIA conventions over the years. I was watching a travelogue of England tonight and someone who could be your brother was leading a tour with all of your wit and humor. Went online to look for you. Gee, the last time I saw you, you were there with Ted and your classic cars in Hillcrest- just by chance. I am missing you. Thank you for all the good times and memories.
March 13, 2021
Wow... I was surfing the internet and came across a mention of the "CAD Teacher". So, I researched to see how good ol Al was doing. I couldn't find a directory on their website, so I searched Al online and found out about his passing. So sad... way too young to go off to the electronic cad site in the sky. I first met Al in the late 1980's, when Dale Nagle Architect, in La Jolla, hired a group of gun-slinger CAD people to fast-track a hotel that needed to be done completely AutoCAD. At the time, there were about four of us who were proficient enough to take on the task. One already was working in Nagles office, and I'm sorry I can't remember his name. Then there was Al, myself, and Perry Purcifell (spelling ?). Together, we put together one of the best set of documents (at that time) of an AutoCAD produced project. What a great experience. I was already teaching CAD at Mesa College and Al was doing training himself. I was able to get Perry hired on to teach part time at Mesa, teaching our advanced classes. At the time, together we were probably teaching 90%+ of those learning CAD in San Diego County. Like one of the responses above, Al was a very, very fast typist. At the time, the Digitizer Pad for CAD was the rage. As an instructor, I always encouraged my students to use the Pad, over typing (mostly because I was a two finger typer). But Al, he was an anomaly, to say the least. He was so brilliant, he could go in and re-write the program, and customize the software to his desire. I never had any inclination to use keyboard shortcuts (because of my slow typing skills), but Al, he was phenomenal on the keyboard. I only saw one person type faster than him... a legal secretary who's fingers were a super blur compared to Al's just being a blurr. I didn't see Al much after working with Nagle, but we would communicate periodically about CAD training over the years. I moved to Julian in the late 90's and Al built his place over in Cuyamaca. Bye Al
September 9, 2020
Just received the news of Al's passing. I met Al and Ted in the 80's. Al was one of the kindest most genuine people I have ever known. My sincere condolences to his husband, Ted, and their family. RIP dear Al.
August 28, 2020
I worked for Al for 8 years while in school and after graduating from school.
Al wasn't just a boss. I revered him as a mentor and a close friend. He taught me a lot about AutoCAD, the field of Architecture, teaching, and life overall. Those are lessons that I will carry forever.
His attitude towards everything was positive and he could light up a room. I greatly enjoyed our lunch outings even after I had moved on from his office and he always was asking about how things were going from work to life in general. He took a personal interest in my life.
Our get togethers always ran long as neither of us could stop talking, and we talked about everything. A true friend.
His positive attitude and passion for life will be dearly missed. Goodbye my dear friend.
August 27, 2020
Al and I along with a few others shared a great friendship in high school and then during the summers between college years. Unfortunately, all the members of our little group of friends went to different colleges. Then, after college we all went different directions pursuing our own careers. This often happens with good friends. But my memories of those days are as clear as if they were yesterday instead of nearly fifty years ago. And my sense of loss is as strong as if we had never drifted apart. Goodbye old friend and may you rest in God’s arms.
August 26, 2020
I have known Al for over 40 years. We met June 1979 at Navy Officer’s Candidate School in Newport RI. Al and I were in the same company - “Alpha”. Al was in the class before me. During my first week of hazing as a “Candidate Under Military Instruction - CUMIN” Al theatrically strode the passageway (hallway) wearing aviator sunglasses shouting at us CUMIN with a loud, deep voice: CUMIN, cage your eyes (i.e., look straight forward). It was an impressive performance. After this “hell week” was finished Al and I eventually became friends. He convinced me to switch career paths to the Navy Supply Corps - the business part of the Navy, which made it much easier to transition to a civilian job - and Al was right! Al and I next met up at Navy Supply Corps School in Athens GA. Al was kind enough to find me an affordable apartment in the area. We lost touch after completing this school. Years later “out of the blue” I received a card in the mail from Al. We reconnected during my business trips to San Diego for a branch of the Navy. Al & Ted were very involved with the Rolls-Royce Owners Club and Al encouraged me to join, even though I didn’t own a Rolls. I took Al’s advice and now own one myself. Al also took me up to Ted & his fabulous home on Mountain Circle during construction and when it was finished. What an architectural achievement! Al was a “one in a million” type person - so brilliant, so kind, so full of life, as others have written on this website. A life taken too soon - a light has gone out of this word. Rest in peace my friend.
August 25, 2020
This is such a shock - too young - but what beautiful path he took us along.
Al lives in the pantheon of great teachers. His openness, kindness, and patience was always on display - along with serious technical talent. In the early '90's, Al took on the task of teaching our office CAD. All of us participated and to this day it is the foundational training for my lame competence in the medium. He always made time for everyone and never made you feel dumb for asking questions.
Al - you will be missed and remembered.
August 24, 2020
As very close friends of Ted and Al's for well over 30 years, we mourn Al's passing greatly. D J Akins will never be the same.
Scott and Neil
August 21, 2020
I've known Al since the early 1990s. I remember first meeting him at UCSD Extension where we both were teaching. We didn't teach the same topic, but became fast friends because we both had a passion for what we did and teaching people. That friendship continued for years to his recent surprising passing. I take only a little solace that in last few years we really had rekindled our interactions a lot more than before.
Everyone who knew Al knows he was a real force of life. He always wanted to share his passions, whether it was relating a story of CAD tools, teaching, setting up VDCI, trips to Yosemite and more. His energy was so positive you couldn't help but to have a better day after you talked to him. If you saw him in person you just couldn't help not be effected by the twinkle in his eye, the mischievous grin and his infectious chuckle. He just made things better.
The world sadly won't be a better place without Al in it, his kind of positive and sincere personality is a bit too rare these days. However, just thinking about him as I type this I can't help but smile and remember the last time I saw him ride his motorcycle away from a lunch meeting we'd just had.
Adios friend. Glad I was on this planet the same time you were and got to know you. I'll try my best to keep the positivity you brought to the world alive until we meet again.
August 21, 2020
I first met Al in 1998, and began working for him not long after. I remember my first day on the job, he was sitting at his computer, just pounding away on the keyboard, fingers flying! I thought it was a show; there was no way he was actually typing anything real. (He did have a flair for trying to get attention!) But, I was wrong. That's when I learned that he had been a demonstrator for IBM typewriters as a teenager and was competitive about being the fastest typist.
I worked for Al for 5 years. I have many fond memories of the time I worked for him, including when we moved the office and were working while the building was under construction. He wasn't always the easiest boss to work for, but I learned a lot. He had high standards and a soft heart. We had a lot of fun times and we felt like a family.
Al always encouraged me and gave me confidence to pursue my goals. After I left WCG, we kept in touch through the years via email and lunch dates. I considered him to be my mentor. He always had time for me and we always picked up right where we had left off.
Al was larger than life and will be sorely missed. He was a man of many talents and unique experiences. I cared for him deeply and feel a huge hole in my heart.
August 19, 2020
One of my favorite memories of Al was when he would suggest somewhere for you to go eat or somewhere to travel to. It always ended up being a fun adventure.
I remember the first time I was visiting in San Diego and he was giving me suggestion for places to eat. On a couple of occasions he would start out with, "I know this place might look a little scary, but..." Each time the food was some of the best I ever had.
He suggested a couple drives for me that always ended up along some wonderful back roads and beautiful countryside drives. I guess that was really what Al was about. Finding value in the roads less traveled and sharing it with others.
His light in this world will be missed.
August 18, 2020
VDCI is a client of ours, and I’ve known Al professionally for almost ten years. When Al called, I could feel the smile in his voice. Al was a professional, but he was always friendly and personable. I will miss him. My deepest condolences to the Whitley and VDCI Family. Peace be with you.
August 15, 2020
Al was a brilliant and wonderful man. Through seventeen years, Al and I met, and laughed and discussed the world, architecture, politics, human rights, art, music, cooking, camping, any subject. I always felt enthralled with life, after being, with him. I am sad, knowing, we won't have our next laugh and chat. He must have affected many people, who admired, respected, and loved him, as I did.
My sincere sympathies to Al's family. He is missed dearly.
August 14, 2020
I met Al in 2006 when I first moved to San Diego. He was looking for a Revit instructor and I was a young Revit user looking for extra income. Al was always thoughtful and mentored me throughout my career. I have profound respect for his technical abilities and entrepreneurial spirit.
He would always do his best to make time for me and we'd meet for lunch from time to time. The last time I saw him was just before the pandemic. We had lunch at Soda & Swine and we had a great time catching up and discussing current events. Conversations with Al were always interesting and this one was no different.
He will be missed.
August 14, 2020
Al was a wonderful person, great teacher and a friend. He always told such funny stories. Will miss him immensely.
Blessings to his family.
August 14, 2020
Un Gran Amigo.
Blessed to have meet Al as he launched his Autodesk Authorized Training Center in San Diego. I was welcomed in, greeted with big smiles, hugs and we engaged in a passionate discussion of how can we make a better world for all. I knew then he would have a deep impact with all that crossed his path in business and life.
I will cherish so many great memories of a great human being whom so many had an opportunity to join him in his joy of life. A true inspiration and my sincere condolences to his family.
August 13, 2020
Wow... I have countless memories of Al but they tend to fall into two categories; Working and Chilling. When we were working, brainstorming, building a program together, Al was the first to volunteer time and talent... always first. Outside work at any of the gazillion events or mixers of some kind, we'd find ourselves talking and while Al was a good talker, he was a great listener! I felt like he was always looking for a way to help and if he missed part of a conversation, he'd miss a chance to help. He is part of many cherished memories of mine and I will miss him, his smile, his laughter and his friendship.
August 13, 2020
Ted, Karen & Family,
I have had the absolute honor to know Al for the last 8 years, working closely with him as he had grown his Training Business. My fond memories of spending time with him both in San Diego and at Autodesk University are too many to count. Al had an infectious personality and a rare ability to make friends out of strangers almost immediately. He had a way of becoming the life of any situation he found himself in. His immense wisdom and selfless sharing of his time and talent will be missed by myself and I would imagine by countless others as well.
My Sincerest Condolences.
Richard Kastler & Family
August 13, 2020
Al and I have been friends for over 20 years. It's hard to express the void that is left with his leaving us. He was a dear man who was loved by many, including myself.
My sincerest sympathies go out to Al's family for his sudden passing. He will be missed.
August 12, 2020
Like many, I was lucky to meet Al at Autodesk University and it was really only in that context that I knew him. But during the years we were connected, I never once saw him without a smile; never found him lacking in excitement; never had a conversation with him that wasn't brimming with genuine enthusiasm -- for what we might do together or for what else he might have been doing in all those big spaces outside of AU.
Maybe it was his selflessness, or maybe it's a selfish thing to remember, but he made me feel good about what I was doing. And I can't think of a better impact to have on another person. Al had that impact on me whenever I was lucky enough to hear from him.
He is missed.
August 11, 2020
I met Al through the Autodesk community, and got to know him a bit through Autodesk University and the AU Advisory Council.
Al always had a sparkle in his eye: he was full of ideas and enthusiasm. I think what I remember most about Al is that he genuinely cared about people. I always left my conversations with Al feeling heard, and valued for who I am (not just what I do). He inspired me, and everyone around him, to engage with this kind of deep care.
I will miss him.
August 10, 2020
I met Al many years ago at Autodesk University during the Tron preview event. He sat down next to me and started talking as we waited for it to start. By the time we left the session we were old friends. That was Al. He was always the first to volunteer to be a lab assistant for me, always enthusiastic and helpful, always asking how my family was doing. Just a caring good person that made the places he went a better place. I enjoyed seeing him each year at AU, serving on the AU Advisory Council together and touching base via text throughout the year. His enthusiasm and optimism were inspirational to me and many others. Our industry, community and AU will miss him. I know I will miss him.
August 9, 2020
I feel very privileged to have known Al. It was always a pleasure to spend time with Al whether it was in person or online. His sense of optimism and enthusiasm was infectious. I always looked forward to the Photoshop creations he would create of the ATCLC members as characters from Star Wars or Star Trek. He will be missed.
August 9, 2020
Al was always a joy to work with, from his humor to his great insight. I have been working with Al through the Autodesk Training Center program. He was very knowledgable and offered great leadership. I was saddened to hear of his passing. He is going to be missed by the many people that know him and worked with him. I feel lucky that I got to work with him.
August 8, 2020
I am deeply saddened on hearing of Al’s passing. Almost immediately when our company was selected as a distributor to the Learning Partner channel, Al reached out to me to offer his support. As Chair of the ATC Leadership Council, his guidance throughout our tenure was always appreciated and spot-on. I was very fortunate to know him. I will miss his insight, his honesty, his wisdom, and most importantly his joyful personality. My sincerest condolences to his family.
Karen Adler Miletsky
August 7, 2020
I just can’t believe that Al has passed on to the great beyond. I just spoke to Al on the phone about 2 weeks ago about another colleague’s passing. I knew Al through the Autodesk Training Centers and had worked closely with him for years on the ATC Advisory Board which he so loved working on and contributing to. Al had such a bright smile that lit up his whole face and had such a great sense of humor. He loved all his sports cars and the car club he belonged to that he would go on these road trips with. His cars are gorgeous. I was hoping to get a chance to get ride one day in one of the convertibles., they were his passion. I used love talking to Al and he loved Lynn Allen’s presentations and classes at AU. He was a huge Lynn Allen fan. He always sat upfront during her classes. I taught even him about when you see the rabbit 🐇 on the screen to get your arm up quick. I even think he won a Monty Python prize once.
I will so ever miss my friend.
My sincere condolences to his wife, family and friends. Al, may you Rest In Peace and always be close at heart to your family ❤️✨💫
August 7, 2020
Al was one of my favorite people that I knew professionally. He would always ask about my family and how I was doing. He was endlessly kind and generous. Autodesk University will not be the same without him, indeed the world will not be the same without him.
August 7, 2020
Al was the kindest, warmest person I have had the pleasure of working with. He truly brightened the lives of everyone around him and his passing will hurt for the rest of our days, but we are all better people for having known him. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
-Warren & Carol Geissler
August 7, 2020
I worked with Al for several years on the Autodesk Training Center Advisory Board. I thoroughly enjoyed working with him. Al was very creative, very funny, and very driven.
I live in Virginia Beach and Al would always ask me how things were going back here in Hampton Roads. I will miss him.
I'm saddened by your loss. You are all in my prayers.
August 7, 2020
Ted, Karen, and Family,
Our hearts are very much saddened by the news of Al's passing. As you know he was a great man. Al was the way all human's should be. He put others first always and met life with hopeful adventure.
We are so incredibly glad our path's crossed in this lifetime and are better people because of knowing Al.
Thank you so much for sharing your precious time with Al with us.
Thomas and Nancy Tremblay
Oak Point, Texas
Jeff and Evelyn Stanley
August 6, 2020
Ted, Karen, and Family,
We are deeply saddened at your loss. All my family loved Al and will always remember his creativity, his electricity, and his high-wire humor. He was a devoted friend to us all.
All our love to your family,
Jeff & Evelyn Stanley
Linda Stanley Tannehill, Scott Tannehill, and Emily Anne Tannehill