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Robert Whitman

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Rev. Canon Robert S. S. Whitman

1915-2010 LENOX Rev. Canon Robert Shaw Sturgis Whitman, 94, of Union Street, Guilford, Conn., for 35 years Rector of Trinity Church in Lenox, died Tuesday morning at Connecticut Hospice in Branford, Conn.

Born in New York City, July 27, 1915, son of Dr. Armitage Whitman and Mary Lyman Sturgis Whitman, he first came to Lenox in 1929, to attend the former Lenox School for Boys, where he was a graduate of the class of 1933, and attended Harvard University, George Washington University in Washington, D.C., the DuBose Memorial Church Training School in Monteagle, Tenn., St. Augustine's College in Canterbury, Kent, England and Yale University's Berkley Divinity School.

Ordained a Deacon in 1943, he became Associate Rector of Bruton Parish Church in Williamsburg, Va., later became Vicar of Grace Church in Yorktown, and then Chaplain of William and Mary College. He served as Vicar to St. Martin's Church in Pittsfield from 1943-45, and during that time was ordained a Priest by then Bishop Lawrence in 1944.

An Army veteran of World War II, Canon Whitman served as a Chaplain in the Philippines from 1945-46.

He became Rector of Trinity Church in Lenox in October of 1949, where he remained for the next 31 years. While Rector of Trinity, he served as Rural Dean of the convocation of Episcopal churches in Berkshire County, and in 1978, he was named an Honorary Canon of Christ Church Cathedral in Springfield, Mass. As part of his ministry at Trinity, he held weekly services at the former Meadow Place retired woman's residence on Main Street and at the former Edgecomb Nursing Home on Sunset Avenue.

He was honorary Chaplain of Berkshire School in Sheffield, was a member of the Board of Trustee's at Lenox School, taught at the former Foxhollow School for Girls, helped revitalize St. Helena's Chapel in New Lenox, made significant improvements to his church, and was a leader of the ecumenical movement in Lenox.

Canon Whitman served as Chairman of the Lenox Historical Committee for many years, was a member of the former Lenox Kiwanis Club as well as the Diocesan Council and the Southern Berkshire Deanery. He belonged to the Stockbridge Boat Club, the Lenox Club, the Small Point Club in Maine, the Graduate Club, the Order of Saint John, and was a member and past secretary of the Oquossoc Angling Association in Rangely, Maine.

Following his retirement from Trinity Church, he returned to St. Martin's as Rector for several years. He also was the author of a book, "Beyond Words", which he hoped would help and inspire people long after he was gone.

Canon Whitman and his wife, the former Eleanor English, were married in New Haven, Conn. on November 25, 1944.

Besides his wife of Guilford, he leaves two daughters, Rosemary Whitman Moore White (David Moore) of Millis, Mass., and Sarah Whitman Kennedy (Patrick) of Westport, Conn.; one sister, Charlotte Casey of Orlando, Fla.; and four grandchildren, including Alyona G. Moore, Lyonya G. Moore, Robert Whitman Kennedy, and Michael Emerson English Kennedy; and step-grandchildren, Melissa Kedzior and Sean Kennedy.

He was predeceased by his beloved brother, Royal Whitman.

MEMORIAL NOTICE: A memorial service will be held in Lenox this summer at a time to be announced. His ashes will be interred at the Church on the Hill Cemetery near the burial site of Annie Hagerty Shaw, widow of Whitman relative Robert Gould Shaw, who was killed during the Civil War leading the Army's first black regiment against Fort Wagner.

To learn more about his ideas, his book, and his life, visit www.readbeyondwords.com.

Published in The Berkshire Eagle on Feb. 15, 2010
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