Richard H. (Dick) Whitney
1937 - 2019
Share Richard's life story with friends and family
Send an Email
Or Copy this URL to Share
Richard H. (Dick) Whitney

Phoenix - Richard H. (Dick) Whitney died March 23nd after a courageous battle with cancer. He was born in Phoenix on November 6, 1937, a third-generation Phoenician. His grandparents, Clarence and Maude Whitney, moved their family of eight children from Grand Rapids, Michigan to Phoenix in 1910 and established their dairy farm in Glendale, at Northern Avenue and Lateral 19. His mother, JonnieBeth, was a teacher; his father, Forest, was the business manager of the Arizona Republic.

Dick was a proud graduate of North High School and maintained many lifelong friendships with members of the class of 1956. He attended Claremont Men's College and held B. S., M.B.A. and law degrees from the University of Arizona.

A passionate civic and community leader, Dick was an attorney with Gust Rosenfeld for more than 55 years, spending his entire distinguished career there. He joined the firm in 1963, having started as an office boy in 1961. He said he was inspired to become an attorney by Devens Gust, who emphasized competence, responsiveness and services, qualities Whitney himself demonstrated.

His law practice was estate planning, probate and trust administration. Dick represented clients with intergenerational family issues and nonprofits, many of which were arts-related. He is a member of the State Bar of Arizona and the American Bar Association.

"Dick exemplifies the excellence, integrity and high standards of the legal profession," said Tom Chauncey, a member of the Gust Rosenfeld Executive Committee. "But just as important, he epitomizes the long-standing commitment that our firm has to serving this community."

Dick's clients often refer to him affectionately as the modern-day legal equivalent of a country doctor who made house calls, if needed. He always took time to assure his clients that he truly cared. Highly regarded by his peers, he served on Gust Rosenfeld's Executive Committee and was a member of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel's membership selection committee, nominating committee; he served as a regent and chairman for Arizona.

Whitney was included in the Trust and Estates category of The Best Lawyers of America ®, recognized in AZ Business Leaders for Estate Planning in 2016, the Trusts and Estates category of The Best Lawyers in America ® (1983-2019) and Southwest Super Lawyers ® for Estate Planning & Probate (2007-2015). He was AV® Preeminent ™ rated by Martindale-Hubble ® representing the highest rating in legal ability and ethical standards.

Countless arts and civic organizations in Arizona benefitted from Dick's leadership, energy, and commitment to volunteerism. He was the founding chairman of the Arizona State University Art Museum Advisory Board, and a former board member of the Arizona Theater Company, Heard Museum, and the Museum of Northern Arizona. Dick also served as chairman of the University of Arizona Steele Children's Research Center, president of the Friendly House, and a board member of the Florence Crittenton Services of Arizona.

Most currently he served as President of the Phoenix Chamber Music Society Board (PCMS) of Directors. Dick credited his mother for his love of music, explaining that she played a piano every day his grandmother ordered from the Sears Roebuck catalogue.

Four years ago he established the Whitney Scholarship program for music students from seven Title 1 Phoenix schools. The program provides students, their music teachers and parents tickets to PCMS concerts. Dick was also instrumental in organizing and overseeing the Composer in Residence program for PCMS and helped the organization secure its own concert grand piano.

To honor his grandparents, in 2016 Dick and Linda donated a Corten steel sculpture to the City of Glendale Main Library. The seven foot by three foot piece was created by Arizona artist Michael Anderson.

After meeting Lewis Ruskin, one of the foremost art leaders in Phoenix during the early 1960s, Dick was asked to craft the enabling legislation that established the Arizona Commission on the Arts and Humanities as a state agency. The legislation was signed into law on March 13, 1967, by then-Governor Jack Williams. Later, Governor Bruce Babbitt appointed Whitney to serve as the Arts Commission's third chairman.

In 2017, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Commission, Dick and Linda Whitney were honored with the Shelley Award for their efforts on behalf of arts and culture.

In 1977, through his legal work at Gust Rosenfeld representing the Valley National Bank, Dick wrote the white paper that made the case and laid out the strategy to start a community foundation for Arizona. His idea led to five banks joining together to fund the foundation for three years, covering all administration costs, which allowed the foundation to operate and not compete with other nonprofits for support. In addition to founding the Arizona Community Foundation, he served five years as its chairman.

Dick Whitney is survived by his wife of 50 years Linda, his two daughters Judy Ray (Billy Ray) and Desha Whitney, his two beloved grandchildren William and Hayden Ray, and his brother John Whitney and wife Mary.

A memorial celebration will be held at the Phoenix Country club on Thursday, April 25, 2019 at 2 o'clock in the afternoon. Contributions may be made to the Arizona Community Foundation and the Phoenix Chamber Music Society.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The Arizona Republic on Mar. 31, 2019.
Celebration of Life
02:00 PM
Phoenix Country club
Not sure what to say?
View Printed Guest Book
14 entries
May 19, 2019
Dear Linda and girls, I am so sorry that I did not learn of Dick's passing until today, May 19th. I would love to be in touch before I go back east next week. Since I don't know how to contact you, Linda, after the sale of your house as your land line was my life line to you since the mid 80's, I would love to hear from you if this message comes through. Linda Pulaski 602-717-3319
April 25, 2019
My condolences to the Whitney family. Dick was my father's (Tom Coffin) good friend and lawyer. He was always very attentive and kind to my father. Dick was also very helpful and nice to me when I was managing my dad's estate. He was an overall good guy! My prayers and thoughts are with you during this sad time.

Sally Coffin
April 11, 2019
Dick was an amazing human being. His kindness to my mother, Nancy Kinney, was beyond measure and we always looked forward to seeing him in the neighborhood and at the Riding Club. What smile he had. Thank you for sharing him and please know that he will be missed. Much love to Linda and the family.
Betsy Baker
April 9, 2019
Rest in Peace Mr. Whitney
Kim Belcher
April 7, 2019
I had the pleasure of knowing Dick for 56 years. He was my best friend {and still is} and I will miss him every day for the rest of my life. I have many fond memories of Richard over the years that are far too numerous to recount. He was a great friend and a wonderful human being. I loved him like a brother.

When I had lunch with Dick in December, he told me that he had had a wonderful life. Well deserved my friend! Rest in peace--Jimmy Boy.
James McAnally
April 4, 2019
You will be missed. Uncle Dick
Carole Whitney
April 3, 2019
RIP Uncle Dick
Carole (Billi) Whitney
April 3, 2019
You will be greatly missed, Uncle Dick.
Love and best wishes to your family.
Love, your neice, Carole (Billi) M Whitney
Carole (Billi) Whitney
April 2, 2019
My deepest condolences to the Whitney family! Know that my thoughts and prayers are with you all at this time. Mr. Whitney was such a Wonderful, Genuine Soul who will be missed by so many! RIP Dick Whitney! Giovanna M
April 2, 2019
Giovanna Merlino
April 1, 2019
I worked with Dick at Gust Rosenfeld many years ago (1986-1994). Our paths crossed again in 2013 when I began working at the Arizona Community Foundation, which he co-founded in 1978. May he rest in peace.
Lynda Hilton
April 1, 2019
A pillar of the community, he will be missed.
John Clark
March 30, 2019
My heartfelt condolences to the family and friends. May you always cherish the memories that you have with your loved one, and remember that God is always there for us like it tells us at 1 Peter 5:6,7. I hope you continue to feel love and support from your family and friends.
March 30, 2019
Please accept my dearest and heartfelt sympathy; I am so sorry for your loss. May the God who "binds up the brokenhearted" and "comforts all who mourn" sustain your family during this difficult time. Isaiah 61:1,2
Share to let others add their own memories and condolences