Rear Admiral Philip A. Whitacre, known to all as "Phil", passed away on April 14, 2020 after a brief illness. He was 87 years old. Phil was a leader in the Palm Beach community, enjoyed friendships that spanned the globe, and touched the lives of many. He was a dear friend to all that knew him. Phil served honorably for thirty-seven years in the U.S. Navy and Naval Reserve and attained the rank Rear Admiral (Upper Half), serving on active duty during the Korean War. Among his military honors, he was awarded the Legion of Merit and the Defense Meritorious Service Medal. He later served as Chairman and CEO of the Navy Supply Corps Foundation and President of the United States Navy Supply Corps Association. For thirty years, he was prominent in the management of national performing arts organizations; first as Executive Director of the San Diego Symphony Orchestra, then as Associate Manager and Director of Development of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, then as Chief Development Officer for the National Symphony Orchestra at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., and subsequently as Senior Vice President for the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts. In Palm Beach, Phil was the very successful President & CEO of the Town of Palm Beach United Way where he raised tens of millions of dollars to aid the neediest of Palm Beach County residents. He also served as President of the Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce, a Founder and past Vice-Chairman of the Fellowship of Christians and Jews, First Vice-Chairman of the Historical Society of Palm Beach County, Chairman of Palm Beach Chamber Orchestra, a Director of the Palm Beach Opera, a founder and President of the Palm Beach Flagler Rotary Club, a Director of Gulfstream Goodwill Industries, Chairman of Arthritis Foundation Mid-East Region, and Délégué-Général-Floride of the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin. Phil had a national reputation in humanitarian affairs and dedicated himself to building bridges between ethnic, racial, and religious groups in the U.S. and abroad. In 1998, Phil was the recipient of the American Jewish Committee's Distinguished Humanitarian Award. In 2008, he was presented with the John C. Randolph Award by the Palm Beach Fellowship of Christians and Jews. And in 2010, he was awarded the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor. Phil is survived by his many loving friends and the wonderful relationships around the world that he developed and nurtured during his remarkable 87 years. He was a generous and thoughtful friend to all, hosted the very best luncheons and dinner parties, organized the most interesting trips around the globe for his friends, and was a great connector of people. He never sought the limelight for himself, but always emerged as the leader of every organization in which he was involved. A very special man indeed and we are a better community because Phil Whitacre was amongst us. Phil will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. After the Covid-19 pandemic subsides, there will be a memorial service in Palm Beach in his honor. If you would like to be included, please email your contact info to PhilWhitacreMemorial@gmail.com. Donations in Phil's memory can be made to the Adm. Philip Whitacre Scholarship Fund at the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties, 700 South Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach, FL 33401.
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Published in Palm Beach Daily News on May 3, 2020.