Jean Felton Whitley was a loving husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, brother, uncle, and friend. He passed away peacefully in his sleep on October 25, 2022 at the age of 96 in Ponte Vedra, Florida. He is preceded in death by his parents, Henry and Mae, and his brothers, Jack and Brownie. He is survived by his wife, Wilodean; his sons, David (Elizabeth) and Timothy (Joyce); his grandchildren, Shaun (Megan), Brian (Miranda), and Ross; and his great-grandchildren, Elaine and Wayne.
As a teenager and early airplane enthusiast, he would hitchhike to the airport to work in exchange for flying time. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, he joined the Navy despite not being old enough. He was stationed in the Pacific as a Photographer’s Mate, most memorably on the USS Pensacola, as it intentionally drew fire from batteries on the island of Iwo Jima. He was the unwitting passenger in a reconnaissance plane after the pilot embarked upon an unauthorized strafing run, a story he recalled with glee even though it was harrowing at the time. After the war, he spent some time in China, including a very memorable trip up and down the Yangtze River. Upon returning to the States, he married Wilodean Minter, a girl he met in high school. They raised their sons, David and Timothy, and moved between Alabama, Georgia, Puerto Rico, Nebraska, Iowa, and Florida.
He was a lover of history and literature. He was a schoolteacher briefly and served on the Morgan County (AL) School Board. He designed and operated feed mills for Conagra for 40 years. He enjoyed the music of Marty Robbins and Chet Atkins. He built houses and model railroads. He collected and rebuilt antique cars. He was fascinated by the stock market, assiduously monitoring his portfolio until glaucoma took away his sight. He loved a good laugh and tried to figure out how to fix all the world’s problems with his family around the dinner table. More than all of that, he was a dedicated family man, dispensing the best advice with the ease of experience and wisdom. He had a deep faith in God and loved Jesus, serving as a deacon and Sunday school teacher in churches wherever they lived. He was everything to those who loved him and will be deeply missed.
Memorial services will be determined later. In lieu of flowers, please donate to your local hospice organization or the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.
A tribute page has been created at Jean Whitley Tribute.