Warren W. Whitlinger, 98, Neenah, a devoted husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, teacher, coach, mentor, and friend passed away at the Valley VNA Senior Services Assisted Living Community on April 30, 2012. He was a master motivator who cherished every opportunity to teach people, to spend time with them, to spread a positive outlook, be it in tennis or life. Success for him was helping others become the best that they could be by setting challenging goals, making a plan, working hard, and persevering. In his own words, "To me the ultimate is passing on knowledge. It doesn't do you any good to keep it to yourself."
Warren was born April 4, 1914 in Barnesville, Ohio son of John Russell and Mabel Grace (Yearly) Whitlinger. He attended Zanesville High School where he excelled in basketball, baseball, and football and was the Senior Class President. He went on to Ohio State University
. In 1936, he was captain of the OSU basketball team, led the Big 10 in scoring and was All Big Ten. As a sophomore, junior, and senior, he was elected to the Men's Honorarium. He graduated in 1936, and then earned his MBA in 1940. In 1940, he accepted a position with Kimberly Clark Corporation and worked for the company for 35 years. He retired in 1975 as Director of Quality Assurance.
On October 11, 1941, Warren married Naomi Backes at St. Patrick's Parish in Menasha, WI. She was the love of his life. They were married 65 years before her death in 2007. He was a committed, caring husband to her through her Alzheimer's illness.
In the early 60's, he became involved with tennis. Tennis became his passion. Although not a player himself, he trained and coached three national champions in his family and countless others who became outstanding competitors. In 1986, the Whitlinger family was recognized as the Wisconsin and Midwest Tennis Family of the Year. The family was again honored as the USTA National Tennis Family of the Year in 1987. He was inducted into the Fox Valley Tennis Association Hall of Fame in 1999.
In 1991, he served as Corporate Coach for Mercury Marine in Fond du Lac, WI where he worked with the President/CEO and others in self-management, leadership skills, and team building.
Warren embraced an expectation of excellence in faith, family, athletics, and life.
Affectionately called "Baba," Warren is survived by his 3 children, Warren "Kip" (Ruth) Whitlinger, Neenah, WI, Wendy (Mike Jurgenson) Whitlinger Jurgenson, Appleton, WI, John (Jan) Whitlinger, Menlo Park, CA; 9 grandchildren: Tami (Kelly) Jones, Greenville, SC, Teri (Craig) Boynton, Tampa, FL, Tori (Shawn) Pitsch, Neenah, WI, Tate (Alyssa) Whitlinger, Neenah, WI, Melissa (Scott) Chitko, Appleton, WI, Meredith (Ben) Mercer, Indianapolis, IN, Megan (Cedric) Gaaskjolen, Columbus, OH, JJ (Katrina) Whitlinger, San Jose, CA, and Claire Whitlinger, Ann Arbor, MI; 11 great grandchildren: Makenna Jones, Sydney, Skyler, and Spencer Boynton, Rosie and Nomie Whitlinger, Connor Chitko, Matthew and JP Mercer, Jake and Abby Gaaskjolen; a nephew: Phil (Rhonda) Peters, Sarasota, FL; and many other relatives and friends.
In addition to his wife and parents, Warren is also preceded in death by his father- and mother-in-law, infant granddaughter Wendy Whitlinger, a sister Mary (Austin) Peters, and a nephew Paul Peters.
Memorial services will be held at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday May 8, 2012, at St. Patrick Catholic Church, 324 Nicolet Blvd., Menasha. Entombment will follow. Friends may call at the church from 9:30 a.m. Tuesday until the time of the mass. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given in Warren's memory to St. Patrick's Parish or the Valley VNA Senior Services Assisted Living Community, Neenah.
The family wants to express their gratitude to the VNA staff and the Theda Care at Home Hospice staff who took such good care of Warren.
Dad, our "Baba," wanted to leave a legacy. In his words, "Let my legacy be that my life has given the gift of inspiration to my family and friends. May not only the length of my life, but the depth of my life give it true meaning." Dad, that is your legacy. You are gone but never forgotten. All our love, your family.