Nicholas, who was a few days away from his 81st birthday, “passed away peacefully,” according to the company’s tribute, on May 14.
“As a pioneer who helped shape the field of minimally invasive surgery, Pete Nicholas is remembered worldwide for his contribution to vastly improved patient outcomes and equally impressive increases in healthcare efficiency,” Boston Scientific Chair and CEO Mike Mahoney said in the tribute. “Within the Boston Scientific family, Pete was also a lifelong mentor, motivator and friend to hundreds of employees.”
Nicholas and co-founder John Abele formed a partnership in 1978 and, in 1979, created Boston Scientific. Nicholas had spent 10 previous years working in sales, marketing and general management at Eli Lilly before becoming GM of the medical products division at Millipore. He resigned from Millipore to create Boston Scientific with the goal of bringing more accessible, lower-cost and less-traumatic medical options to patients.
The two co-founders began the company as a startup with fewer than 50 employees that was financed with a $500,000 loan and $300,000 in partners’ capital, the company said. Today, more than 27,000 employees comprise the major medtech company.
Nicholas relinquished his CEO duties in 1999 but retained an active role as chair of the Boston Scientific board all the way until he stepped down in 2016.
“I have always placed more value on the leaders who lead from the front and are the doers, enthralled not by self but by the outcomes that they and their teams achieve,” Nicholas said, according to Boston Scientific. “It’s a deeply personal issue, too. When you move the needle and make a difference that is valued by the corporation, other people may know it or not. To the true leader, it doesn’t really matter.”