Whitaker, William Sr.
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William N. Whitaker Sr., devoted husband, proud father, driven businessman, rugged cowboy, singer extraordinaire, involved civic leader and enthusiastic sportsman all combine to describe Bill. Scottsdale resident, formerly lived in St. Paul, MN. Born August 1, 1924 and died peacefully February 25th in Scottsdale AZ. Survived by loving wife Susan, sons Bill Jr. (fiancée Patty), Jack (Sue), Chuck (Julie), Doug (Kathy), Steve (Shannon) and stepchildren Stephanie Linnenkamp (Brent) and Bill Gillen. Also survived by sister Patty (George) Selover, many grandchildren, great-grandchildren and first wife Jean Ambler. Preceded in death by parents Floyd and Esther Whitaker, and sister Mary Jane Karr. Bill was truly larger than life - his love for his family and friends, radiant smile, warm handshake and commanding voice gave him a hearty yet friendly presence wherever he was. He grew up in Minneapolis, attended Washburn High School and the University of Minnesota. Inspired by his father's hard work in the automotive business, Bill worked for the Stephens Buick Company in Minneapolis, earning a sales manager position while still in college. His success there led him to purchase Midtown Motors on University Avenue in St. Paul in 1954, which was the beginning of Whitaker Buick. At just 30 years old, Bill was one of the youngest GM Dealers in the country, and received numerous Sales and Service awards over the years. He took a personal interest in both his employees and customers that created a culture of loyalty seldom found in the industry. Almost 60 years later, Whitaker Buick GMC continues as a family business in Forest Lake, MN. He served on the Boards of Director for many organizations, notably serving as Chair for the MN Auto Dealers Association, Better Business Bureau, St. Paul Rotary Club, and was active in many other civic endeavors. He firmly believed in giving back to the community he served. Other organizations close to his heart were Ducks Unlimited, Boy Scouts of America, YPO, Osman Shrine and Carefree Rancheros. A cowboy at heart, Bill was an experienced horseman, and enjoyed many extended rides with his friends and family in both MN and AZ. This interest also led him to purchase acreage in Hugo MN in the late '50s and 'the Farm' was a great source of joy to Bill whether he was horseback riding, planting trees, duck hunting or renovating the log cabin that would be his homestead for a number of years. He enjoyed many yearly adventurous family reunion trips, and never one to relax on vacation, Bill was always looking to play another round of golf, a last set of tennis, or share a cocktail and story around the fire pit. He loved to sing, and could recall a song on most any topic, serenading 1 or 20. Retirement led Bill and Susan to the warm weather of Scottsdale, where he was able to enjoy riding the desert, more golf and tennis, and the company of his many friends. Bill's integrity and positive spirit left an influence on those who knew him, and will be greatly missed. Happy trails, partner. Services will be Friday March 1st at 1:30 pm at the Scottsdale Bible Church Chapel, 7901 E. Shea Blvd, Scottsdale, AZ with reception to follow. In lieu of flowers, memorials preferred to Courage Center of MN or Hope & A Future of Phoenix AZ. A memorial service will also be held in Minnesota in June. Details to follow.
Published in The Arizona Republic from Feb. 27 to Mar. 1, 2013