BONHAM - Funeral services celebrating the life of Major Ben F. Whitehead (USAF Ret.), 91, of Bonham, will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday at Boyd Baptist Church under the direction of Wise Funeral Home. Rev. Rex Jackson will officiate. Burial with military honors will be held at Little Jordan Cemetery, Hwy 56 between Ector and Savoy. Ben passed away Friday, June 27, 2014 at Sam Rayburn Memorial Veterans Center Nursing Home in Bonham following a courageous battle with cancer.|
Benjamin Franklin Whitehead, Jr. was born March 14, 1923 in Farmington, Georgia, the son of Benjamin Franklin Whitehead, Sr. and Mattie Bell Middlebrooks Whitehead. He graduated from Watkinsville, Georgia High School and attended Georgia Tech University, Auburn University and Ducane University and graduated from the Cadets.
Ben faithfully served his country for 22 years as a pilot in WWII, the Korean War, the Cold War (with the Strategic Air Command), the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Vietnam War. When he retired in 1965, he was serving with the Hurricane Hunters, at Hunter AFB, Savannah, Georgia.
He married Shirley Ann Smith on October 22, 1990 in Garland, Texas. The couple lived in Marietta, Georgia for 13 years prior to moving to Bonham in 2004. He was a member of the Marietta Masonic Lodge and Shriners. Ben was recognized by the United Daughters of the Confederacy with a military service award. He was awarded a Medal of Commendation for his service during the Korean War. Ben was a member of Boyd Baptist Church, a lifetime member of the VFW and DAV and a member of the retired Officers Association. He was a senior quality engineer at E-Systems in Greenville, Texas for a number of years, retiring in 1991. Ben was preceded in death by his parents.
Ben is survived by his wife, Shirley Whitehead of Bonham, Texas; son, Kenneth Drake of Bonham; daughters, Deborah Ann Gleaves and husband, Ron of Terrell, Texas, Lisa Lankford of Bonham, Lari McGrew and husband, Mike of New Braunfels, Texas, Lana Foster of Greenville, Texas, Linda Nelson and husband, Truitt of Cummings, Ga.; brother, Bobby Whitehead and wife, Evie of Elberton, Ga.; sister, Elsie Smith of Fort Valley, Ga.; brother-in-law, Gary Smith and wife, Pat of Bells, Texas; 11 grandchildren and four great grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews, extended family and friends.
Pallbearers will be Bill Greenwood, Mike Jones, James Mayo, Steve Russell, Don Winkler and Don Williams. Honorary pallbearers will be members of the Don Williams Sunday School class at Boyd Baptist Church.
The family will receive friends at Wise Funeral Home from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday night. Online guest register www.wisefuneralhome.com.
Published in The Herald Democrat on June 29, 2014