Rhoten William Willhoit, Sr., 89, a long-time resident of Milton, went to be with the Lord on Wednesday, February 26, 2014.
Born November 17, 1924 in Bradley County, Tennessee, he was the middle of three sons of Aner and Ruby Willhoit. Later his family moved to Chattanooga where he attended Central High School.
At the age of 18, Rhoten volunteered with the U.S. Navy
Seabees and served during World War II
with the 119th Construction Battalion as a Shipfitter Second Class. Stationed in New Guinea, Guam and the Philippines, Willhoit was in charge of a saw mill that produced the lumber used to build General MacArthur's headquarters and two chapels.
On the completion of service to his country in 1946, Willhoit returned to Tennessee and received his Associate Degree from Tennessee Wesleyan Junior College. He worked at Combustion Engineering Company and Cramet before moving to Milton in 1958 to work for the Santa Rosa Plant of American Cyanamid Company. He retired after 31 years of service as the Manager of Quality Assurance for the Fibers Division. After retirement, Willhoit served many years as a Mediator in the Santa Rosa County Court System
Willhoit was the first recipient of the Thomas A. Leonard Humanitarian Award given by the Jaycees through the Santa Rosa County Chamber of Commerce in 1968. He was chosen as Man of the Year in 1975 by the Greater Pensacola Industrial Management Association.
A member of Toastmaster International since 1964, he held many offices in that organization, including District Governor in 1968. For several years, Willhoit emceed Junior Miss Contests, Miss Santa Rosa County Pageants, the Open House Air Show at Whiting Field, as well as the annual Jewel McGraw Sports Award Banquet held to honor Milton High School athletes. He was a faithful donor to the Northwest Florida Blood Center. He served Chaplain for the 119th Reunion Group.
An active member of Milton First Baptist Church for over 50 years, Rhoten was a Deacon and served on various church committees. He was a member of the Charity Sunday School Class.
Rhoten was preceded in Death by his parents Aner Pryor and Ruby Della Willhoit; his older brother Clyde and Mary Ruth Willhoit, Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Rhoten is survived by his loving wife of 57 years, Jimmie Thomas Willhoit. He is survived by two children and spouses, Bill and Pam Willhoit, Phoenix, Arizona; Lynn and Steve Wood, Warner Robins, Georgia; grandchildren, Davey Willhoit, Milton, Florida; Kristie Willhoit, Milton, Florida; Brandon Willhoit, Las Vegas, Nevada; Riley Wood, Atlanta, Georgia; and Eva Wood, Warner Robins, Georgia; one great-grandson, Grady Willhoit; brother Roy and Louise Willhoit, Chatttanooga, Tennessee; and several beloved nieces and nephews.
The family will receive friends from 10:00-11:00 a.m. on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at Milton First Baptist Church Bamberg Chapel, where the service will follow at 11:00 a.m. with Dr. David Spencer officiating. Private burial in Bayview Memorial Park, Pensacola.
Active pallbearers will be Davey Willhoit, Brandon Willhoit, Riley Wood, C.L. Willhoit, George Roettger, Phil Neal, Roy Willhoit, Jr. and Tom Greene.
Honorary pallbearers will be Clarence Willhoit, Jim Thomas, Dick Greene, Al Brewton, the Milton First Baptist Church Charity Sunday School Class and the Cyanamid Breakfast Bunch.
The family would like to thank the precious staff at Antebellum Grove, Warner Robins, Georgia for the love and care given.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Mission Aviation Fellowship through Milton First Baptist Church.
Arrangements made by Lewis Funeral Home.
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