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John Whalen

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John Whalen Obituary
John Joseph Whalen

1934-2014 BENNINGTON John Joseph Whalen died peacefully at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center on October 15, 2015 in Bennington, Vermont at the age of 80. John is survived by his wife of 37 years, Cindy; children, Kathy (Los Osos, Calif.), Nora (Clarksville, Md.), Pat (Millwood, N.Y.), Sean (Sherman Oaks, Calif.), Brook (Half Moon Bay, Calif.), and Annie (Brooklyn, N.Y.); 14 grandchildren, one great grandson, and Oliver, his beloved GoldenDoodle. John was born on April 4, 1934 in Burlington, Vermont to James and Cornelia. He graduated from the University of Vermont in 1956 with a degree in History and Political Science. After graduating from UVM, John moved to the Washington, D.C. area and worked as a Fuller Brush salesman, was a Lt. in the National Guard, and studied International Relations at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Service. John joined the Commerce Department and in 1966 was transferred to Buenos Aires, Argentina, as a Commercial Attache'. In 1968 he returned to the Washington, D.C. area and in 1969 went to Saigon, Vietnam as a political attache' and also taught English to the locals. After leaving Vietnam in 1972, John returned to the Washington, D.C. area where he worked for the government briefly before joining Bechtel Corporation in the Finance Department in 1974. He went on to negotiate many large, international construction projects throughout his distinguished career. After moving to San Francisco in 1975, he married the love of his life, Cindy Baker in 1978. John was named the President of MorrisonKnudsen International in 1988. After leaving MKI he joined the United Nations in 1992 in charge of developing the Tumen River Project, which brought together the U.S., Russia, China, North Korea, and Mongolia in an economic development zone. This role combined the best of all of John's experience and skills; as a negotiator, a financier, a commercial developer, and as a leader. In 1995, John, Cindy, and Annie moved to Bennington, Vt. where John briefly acted as a Consultant and he and Cindy ran a gift shop in Manchester, Vt. for a few years. John was an avid reader, an accomplished writer, an inspired storyteller, and a gifted humorist. He left very few rooms without inspiring higher thought or raucous laughter. He was the life of many parties over his days. In his latter days, John entertained and charmed the nurses in the hospital wards he was resident in, proving that as his body weakened, his spirit never did. A small memorial service was held Friday, October 17, at the Old First Church in Bennington, Vt. The family intends to have a larger celebration of John's life sometime in the spring of 2015 in California. Please make any memorial donations to the nonprofit that his daughter Annie works for, JustLeadershipUSA, at www.justleadershipusa.org, or to Warm the Children Fund in care of the Hanson Walbridge & Shea Funeral Home, 213 West Main Street, Bennington, VT 05201.
Published in Bennington Banner on Oct. 28, 2014
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