From the small Southwestern town of Whatley (named in honor of his family) to posts throughout the world, including two tours of duty in Vietnam, a southern Alabama boy has made an indelible mark upon all posts or communities in which he has served or lived. While serving in our military, he was awarded, among others, the Bronze Star. Richard “Dick” Whatley, at age 85, left his beloved Alabama and went home to his Lord on Saturday, May 26, 2012. He was preceded in death by his parents, George L. and Ruby Calhoun Whatley, brothers Joe R. Whatley Sr. and Gene Max Whatley and sister Jane M. Whatley Pritchett.
After retirement from the Air Force, Lt. Colonel Whatley moved to Pell City, the home of his loving wife of 61 years, Evelyn, where he has no peers when it comes to uncompensated service to a community. He has proven himself to be a creator and a sustainer when it comes to organizational creation to support individuals in need. He was one of the charter creators of organizations such as Lakeside Hospice. The Pell City Schools Foundation, The Logan Martin Lake Protection Association, Leadership Pell City, the local chapters of the American Cancer Society, Habitat for Humanity and the United Way.
Since his military retirement, he has served the people of Pell City in many Board assignments made by the Mayor or Council and has served as President of the Pell City Rotary Club and on two occasions as President of the St. Clair County Association of Realtors which awarded him in 1997 the Catherine Lovejoy “Award of Merit.” There has never been a recipient of this distinguished award other than Mr. Whatley. He is also one of the recipients of the Pell City Chamber of Commerce’s “Citizen of the Year” award. He was nominated by the local Broken Arrow Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, (“DAR”), as their nominee for their annual Community Service Award and won. He then was nominated for the Alabama State DAR Award and won and then was nominated for the entire Southeastern United States DAR Award and also won.
Since retirement from the military, his profession for approximately 30 years has been in real estate, and he has used that experience to assist the Pell City School System. The Pell City Library and Habitat for Humanity in the identification and acquisition of real property for such organizations to meet their demands for growth. After retirement, he continued to serve our military, through the Veterans Administration, by voluntarily driving veterans to and from medical facilities when they would have no other means of transportation and personally and continuously updated the St. Clair County and Clarke County (which includes Whatley, Alabama) Walls of Honor which recognizes all county heroes who gave their lives in defense of our country.
And possibly, the most important of all, he has served his church, the First United Methodist Church of Pell City, in every capacity in which a member may serve with many positions served on numerous occasions. His faith in God became stronger as the years went by. He has said on many occasions that as a boy he came from a poor family, but that they didn’t know it. They thought everyone lived as they did. Later in life, he felt blessed that he was able to help others in need.
He is survived by his wife, Evelyn Whatley, daughter Leah Whatley and a grandson, Boomer Richard Meason, all of Pell City, two brothers, Rev. Ray E. (Katherine) Whatley, Ashville, N.C., William D. Whatley, Atlanta, Georgia; two sisters, Elizabeth Whatley Sadler, Gulf Breeze, Fla., Shirley A. Whatley Burge, Grove Hill; four sisters-in-law, Jean Whatley, Virginia N. Posey, Jean Mullins, Betty Whatley; brother-in-law, Floyd Pritchett; 14 nephews; eight nieces; 37 great nephews and nieces; son-in-law, Sam Meason, who prefers to call Dick Whatley his big brother rather than his father-in-law and many other thousands of special family, friends and admirers.
A memorial service was at the Beacon of the First United Methodist Church in Pell City May 30 at 1:30 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to the Alabama Leukemia and Lynphoma Society, 100 Chase Park, Suite 200, Birmingham, AL 35244 or to any of the foregoing charitable organizations with which Dick Whatley has served. The Family would also like to thank Dr. Kent A. Tucker and his staff for their nurturing care.
Condolences may be offered at www.kilgroefh.com.
Kilgroe Funeral Home of Pell City directed. (20-1tc)