Nearly three months after Lewis Platt agreed to become chairman of Boeing, the former tech executive talked about his unusual partnership...

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Nearly three months after Lewis Platt agreed to become chairman of Boeing, the former tech executive talked about his unusual partnership with Boeing Chief Executive Harry Stonecipher.

Both had taken on new roles to fill a gap left when Phil Condit resigned as Boeing’s chairman and chief executive in December 2003.

“Harry focuses on performance and on restoring the reputation of the company, and I focus on the board,” Platt told Knowledge@Wharton, the online journal of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, one of his alma maters.

Yesterday, Platt announced Stonecipher’s resignation, which had been requested by the board in a move to preserve the aerospace giant’s fragile reputation.

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While investigating a claim Stonecipher was having an affair with a Boeing executive, “we just found some things that we thought reflected poorly on Harry’s judgment and will impair his ability to lead the company going forward,” Platt said yesterday.

They were tough words coming from someone who supported Stonecipher so strongly a year ago.

Platt, 63, was calling on customers back then and had told Stonecipher he could pinch-hit when necessary, he told Knowledge@Wharton. Even yesterday, Platt said he had just returned from a sales trip in the Middle East.

Platt has been on Boeing’s board since 1999, the year he retired as chief executive of Hewlett-Packard after 33 years with the company. A mechanical engineer by training, Platt succeeded John Young in 1992.

Seven years later, he helped select Carly Fiorina as his successor at HP; last month, she was ousted for failing to slash costs and boost sales quickly enough.

Also in 1999, Platt was named chief executive of Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates. He retired in 2001.

Melissa Allison: 206-464-3312 or mallison@seattletimes.com