HAMPTON - Henry Whitehead Jr., 69, an employee of William & Mary as an electronics technician at Jefferson Laboratory, Newport News, Va., died at home on Aug. 11, 2008.
Born in Rocky Mount, N.C., and reared in Richmond, Va., he was the youngest of four children born to the late Henry and Lucy Odell Whitehead. Early on in the church, community, and at Armstrong High School, he exhibited traits that would help to define him as a special human being-thoughtfulness, integrity, objectivity, laughter, loyalty, responsibility, open-mindedness, compassion, honesty, an excellent listening ear, and a touch of wisdom. The most significant decision he ever made occurred in 1956: he accepted Christ as his Savior. On Dec. 13, 1956, he was baptized by Rev. R.L. Taylor of Fourth Baptist Church (Richmond).
Attending Hampton Institute (Hampton University) yielded another opportunity for Whitehead to continue weaving his tapestry of friendships. Hampton Institute was also where Whitehead would meet his future wife, Barbara Ann Moore of Aiken, S.C.; they married in 1965. Shortly thereafter, he joined the Army, served a tour of duty in Vietnam and received an honorable discharge. After employment with Western Electric in Washington, D.C., in 1968 he joined the staff of Virginia Associated Research Center (VARC) of Newport News, Va. With this hiring by William & Mary, he was the only African American employee actively engaged in the day-to-day operation of the science program.
In 1995, the Black History Month Committee of Jefferson Lab awarded him a Special Recognition Award 'for his dedication to science and the African-American community.' In the community, he reached out to others in a number of ways, including being a Big Brother and supporting political candidates with agendas of justice, enlightenment, and human decency. Henry enjoyed a variety of sports, music, and art. He also liked photography. Some examples of his commissioned work hang on display at Jefferson Lab.
Leaving to mourn his absence are his wife, Barbara; three children, Ina, Norris (Angela), and Martin; two grandchildren, Niya, and Isaiah; two sisters, Mary Chambers (Lacey) and Dorothy Whitehead; one brother, Robert Whitehead Sr.; and a wonderful extended family of nieces, nephews, and cousins. He also leaves behind a host of friends.
A public viewing will take place from 12 to 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 15, at the funeral home. A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 16, at First Baptist Church of Hampton. Interment will follow at Hampton Memorial Gardens.
In lieu of flowers, the Whitehead family would appreciate donations be made in memory of Brother Whitehead to the Patterson-Gaines Memorial Chapel Renovation Project in care of First Baptist Church of Hampton, 229 North King St., Hampton, VA 23669.
Arrangements by Ronald C. Perkins Funeral Home, Ronald C. Perkins Jr., funeral director. View and post condolences on our online guestbook at dailypress.com/guestbooks.
Published in Daily Press on Aug. 14, 2008.