July 21, 1925 - December 28, 2008
Long-time Nevada educator and former Washoe County School Trustee Robert G. (Doc) Whittemore, Jr., from Sparks passed away on December 28, 2008, leaving behind a lasting legacy of love, faith and service to others. Born on July 21, 1925 in Grand Junction, Colorado to Robert G. and Lolita Leach Whittemore, his early life was primarily spent in Colorado where he attended elementary school and high school.
He was an accomplished student and was graduated from high school at the age of 15. He achieved this feat even though his freshman year was spent entirely in a hospital recovering from numerous injuries having been hit by a car while riding his bicycle. Told he would never walk again, he recovered so completely that he was able to participate in intercollegiate athletic activities, including boxing and track at Mesa College in Grand Junction, Colorado from which he graduated at age 17 with an associate's degree.
Enlisting in the United States Army immediately after this graduation, he served with distinction in the 44th Tank Battalion in one of the most awe-inspiring missions of World War II in the Pacific. In February 1945, under the direction of General Douglas MacArthur, he was one of the first men of the famed raids to liberate over 3700 civilians and 1300 prisoners of war held at the Santo Tomas University in Manila, Philippines. He was the leader and organizer of reunions of the members of the 44th Tank Battalion and took great pride in their accomplishments and the friendships made during the war. Following his discharge from the Army as a staff sergeant in January 1946, he enrolled at the University of Nevada, graduating with academic honors in 1947. He then immediately obtained a Master's Degree in economics from the University of California at Berkeley. Following his studies at Berkeley, he entered the field of education as an English teacher. He was a well-loved faculty member at Mineral County High School, Visalia (California) Union High School, and Reno High School while in his twenties and then became the principal at Yerington High School at the age of 31.
In 1959, he became a lecturer in secondary education at the University of Nevada. Recipient of a National Defense Education Act scholarship, he attended Arizona State University and received a doctorate in educational psychology and counseling psychology in 1963. Following service with the Clark County School District in Las Vegas, Nevada, he then returned to the University of Nevada as the Director of Counseling and Testing and later Dean of General University Extension. In 1974, he retired from the University. He was very proud of the impact he made on the students with whom he interacted, commenting often on their successes and achievements.
Named an “outstanding educator“ in 1965 by Phi Delta Kappa, Dr. Whittemore was an active participant in many professional activities related to education. He was a contributor to numerous professional journals and was trustee of the American College Testing Program. He was a founder of the Nevada Humanities Committee and was elected by 90,000 school boards across the United States as a director of the National School Board Association. In two successive years, he was named the outstanding school board member for Nevada while serving as a Washoe County School Trustee.
He had an abiding interest in helping others and throughout his career counseled many troubled adolescents and adults at Wittenberg Hall, the Nevada Department of Prisons and most recently at Rite of Passage. He was always immensely proud of the successes achieved by those whom he counseled.
He was appointed by three Nevada governors to the Nevada Board of Psychological Examiners where he served for 14 years. He was honored twice for outstanding lifetime achievements by his fellow psychologists.
A devoted Presbyterian, he was a member of numerous commissions and governing boards of the church. An ordained lay preacher, he gave freely of his time and talents to the churches in Nevada and California.
His family will remember him most as a devoted and loving husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. He was married in 1947 to Marion Leslie Harvey, a co-ed whom he met at the University of Nevada. They were the parents of five children of whom he was immensely proud: Robert Alan, Leslie Carolyn (Lynn), Frederick Harvey, David Clark and Ellen Fae. His wife, Leslie passed away in 1995 and daughter, Lynn passed away in 2001. He will be sorely missed by Bob (Saundra), Harvey (Annette), David, Ellen Whittemore and her husband, Jeff Patterson and Lynn's husband, Max Wilson; grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who were the love of his life, Amy Christine Wilson Clark (Matt); D.J. Whittemore (Alicia) and their children, Aidan, Robert George III, Fiona, and Gwyneth; Kelly Diane Wilson; Andrea Leslie Whittemore and her fiancé, Brian Goad; Maggie Ellen Wilson Kingsbury (Brandon) and their children, Bailey and Kyla; Robert Scott Whittemore (Kristin); Jenny Lynn Wilson and her children, Tianna and Cameron Carroll; Natalie Marie Whittemore Okeson (Todd); Andrew Christian Patterson (Lindsey); Gregory Clark Whittemore; Michael Allan Wilson (Beth); Adrien Sarah Whittemore; Morgan Kacie Patterson; Jeffrey Chase Whittemore; Katie Marie Wilson; Madeline Gwen Whittemore; and Andrew John Whittemore and his sister, Madeleine Bertagnole.
He is survived by his wife, Sybil and was very blessed to gain a wonderful second family upon his marriage to her in December 1996. She was his constant loving partner and a companion to him at a wide variety of family celebrations and University of Nevada athletic events. Sybil and her children, Kristin McCassie and her children, Jake and Becca; Stephanie and Jeff Broline and their children, Matthew and Madisyn Rose and Brian (Keko) Maldonado were a source of much enjoyment in his later years. He was also dad and grandpa to Tsige Gesit and her children, Sutafe Bogale and Zalelem Bogale and was affectionately known as dad or grandpa to numerous others for whom he was an inspiring role-model. He will also be missed by his brother, Dr. C.A. Whittemore of Leavenworth, WA; brother-in-law, Fred Harvey and sister-in-law, Isabel of Sparks; sister-in-law, Betty Blaikie of Reno; brother-in-law, Bob Nebeling of Corpus Christi, TX and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins. He was preceded in death by his brother, CDR F. H. Whittemore and his wife, Billie; his sister, Sue Whittemore Nebeling; his sisters-in-law, Bernice Whittemore, Mary Harvey, and Audrey Harvey; and his brothers- in-law, Jack Blaikie, Jim Harvey, and Sam Harvey.
Services will be held on January 2, 2009 at 1 p.m. at St. John's Presbyterian Church, 1070 W. Plumb Lane, Reno, NV 89509. A reception will be held at the Resort at Red Hawk immediately following the services. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Whittemore-Peterson Institute for Neuro-Immune Disease to be located at the University of Nevada School of Medicine, 6600 N. Wingfield Parkway, Sparks, NV 89436. The WPI was founded by his daughter-in-law, Annette to discover causes of and treatment for chronic neuro-immune diseases.
Published in the Reno Journal-Gazette and Mason Valley News from Dec. 31, 2008 to Jan. 4, 2009.