East Lyme - Christine (Bills) Whitaker, 87, of Niantic, died suddenly on Wednesday, Aug, 27, 2014, at home in Niantic.
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Christine was born to Professor Frank Hartwell Bills and Hannah Mabel (Junkins) Bills in Kingston, R.I., on Dec. 13, 1926, the youngest of their six children. She was active in her high school class in Kingston, and then went on to graduate from the University of Rhode Island with a bachelor of arts degree in early childhood education in May 1948, and later a master's degree in education from Eastern Connecticut State College. At URI, she met her future husband, Walter, who had started college earlier but was interrupted by his four years of service in the European Theater during World War II, and he also became part of her class of '48. She branched out during her college years by working at hotels in New Hampshire and one fun summer at Lake Placid, N.Y.
Mrs. Whitaker was an elementary school teacher, special needs tutor, longtime substitute teacher, homemaker, sailor, traveler, and a fantastic wife, mom, and grandmother. She enjoyed sailing, birds, loved plants and flowers, beaching, traveling cross-country (on two occasions), as well as multiple trips to Europe. One of her favorite trips was by boat, going from Niantic to Montreal and back over a five week period, traveling the Hudson, Erie Canal, Lake Ontario, Lake Champlain, and the St. Lawrence Seaway.
She leaves her husband, Walter, of Niantic, after 64 years of wonderful marriage; a son and daughter-in-law, Todd and Pat Whitaker of East Lyme; daughters and sons-in-law, Kim and Bruce Goff of Attleboro, Mass., and Kristen and Louis Beebe of Waterford; a dearly loved grandson, Todd Whitaker Jr., of Antiqua, Guatemala,; and five dearly loved granddaughters, Amanda Sullivan of Washington, D.C., Christy Goff of Seattle, Wash., Katy Whitaker of Boston, Leah Beebe and Allora Beebe, both of Waterford. She also leaves her siblings, Lester Bills and wife, Ernestine, of Peabody, Mass., and Anna Blease of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
Along with her parents, she was preceded in death by her three sisters, Eloise Troise, Gladys Culley, and Arline Bills.
Christine battled many issues in her later years but was amazing in her positive outlook during every situation. She dealt with breast cancer, a heart attack, macular degeneration, and most recently congestive heart failure. She was on oxygen over the past few months but trailing around the house with the "tail" did not hinder her one bit. She mastered email and became the family's communicator. She knew every flower and blossom and tended to them around her property. She loved to watch the potpourri of wildlife just outside their home's sunroom. She could identify every type of bird, deer, turkey, squirrel, and chipmunk.
A funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014, at Niantic Community Church, 170 Pennsylvania Ave., Niantic. Calling hours will be from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 5, at the Thomas L Neilan & Sons Funeral Home, 48 Grand St., Niantic. There will be a private burial at St. Patrick's Cemetery, Pascoag, R.I., following the church service.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Discovery Eye Foundation, Los Angeles, Calif. (in support of macular degeneration research) or Angelman Syndrome Foundation, Aurora, Ill., in honor of her granddaughter, Allora.
Thomas L. Neilan & Sons East Lyme Funeral Home
48 Grand St
Niantic, CT 06357
Published in The Day on Aug. 31, 2014