UNION — William Jackson Whitener of Union died Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012.
Born April 21, 1922 in Mt. Holly, N.C., Col. Whitener was a son of the late David Henry Whitener and Elizabeth Jane Barrett Whitener.
He is survived by his beloved wife of 60 years Martha Pacolet Sarratt Whitener.
He grew up in Gastonia, N.C. and attended NC State University before graduating from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1946. An Infantry officer, he served in varied assignments throughout the world, commanding a Reconnaissance Platoon in the 1st Infantry Division, Parachute Company in the 82nd Airborne Division, an Infantry Battalion in the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii, and a Mechanized Brigade in the 3rd Infantry Division in Germany. He held staff assignments at the Battalion, Battle Group, Regiment, and Army Group level. He taught English at the United States Military Academy and from 1967-69 was Chief of Staff there.
Col. Whitener received his Master of Arts in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University and his Master of Science in International Affairs from George Washington University. During his Army career, he graduated from the Infantry Officers Basic and Advanced Courses at Fort Benning, the US Army Command and Staff College, the Armed Forces Staff College, the Naval War College, and the Air War College.
After retiring from the Army in 1975, Whitener became Dean of the University of South Carolina at Union from 1977 to 1984, becoming the first Dean Emeritus of that campus. He served on the S.C. Commission on Higher Education from 1985-93 and was Chairman of that Commission from 1988-93. During this time he served on Gov. Campbell’s Commission on the Future, the Board of Trustees of the S.C. Research Authority and the S.C. General Assembly’s Select Committee for the Education Improvement Act. He was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humanities by Lander University. In 1993, he was asked to serve as Interim Chancellor of the University of South Carolina-Upstate. During this time he was awarded the Order of the Palmetto.
Active in Rotary for over 37 years, Col. Whitener served as President of the Union club and as District Governor. He attended Rotary International conventions in Munich, Philadelphia, Seoul, Melbourne, Singapore, Portland, and Calgary.
He was a devoted member of Grace United Methodist Church and the David Clyburn Sunday School Class.
Col. Whitener has recently concentrated on community activities in Union, working with the Union County Historical Society to reopen a Union County Museum, to create a historic trail through the county, and to purchase and restore the Cross Keys House. He was the founding chairman of the Union Community Foundation and worked to bring the Timken Sports Complex to Union.
He was named Palmetto Patriot in 2010 and received the Union County Centennial Cornerstone Award in 2011. He was honored as the Union County Veteran of the Year in 2008 and 2012. He was actively working to bring an events center to Union and recently completed a memoir for his grandsons.
Col. Whitener is survived by one daughter, Martha and her husband Michael Todd Walker of Elberton, GA; two grandsons, William Jackson Whitener Walker of Atlanta and George Reid Walker of Elberton; as well as by his sister-in-law and brother-in-law Dr. and Mrs. Palmer Fant of Independence, VA.
He was preceded in death by his two brothers, Hugh Dave Whitener of Gastonia, N.C. and Newell Russell Whitener of Greenwood, S.C.; and one sister, Nell Whitener Lee of Columbia, S.C.
He truly loved his family and thoroughly enjoyed his nieces, nephews, cousins and their children. He was a great supporter of young people in his family, during his Army career, and while working in education. His greatest joys were encouraging people to reach for new and higher goals and inspiring others to the joy of service to church, community, state and country.
Funeral services will be held at 3 p.m., Friday, Nov. 16, 2012 at Grace United Methodist Church, Union, S.C. with visitation before the service at the church from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. Burial will be in the church cemetery with Full Military Honors.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Union County Historical Society, P.O. Box 220, Union, S.C. 20379.
The family will be at the home, 203 Thompson Boulevard, Union.
S. R. Holcombe Funeral Home, Inc.