Jerry Dean Whitney of Niangua, Missouri, formerly of Topeka, Kansas, passed away February 20, 2018 in Junction City, Kansas.
A public memorial service will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 24, in All Saints Hall at Grace Episcopal Cathedral, 701 SW 8th St. in Topeka. Private interment will occur at a later date in Maple Cemetery, Salem, Nebraska.
Jerry was born August 13, 1936 in Stella, Nebraska, to Deo Von and Julia Maude (Davis) Whitney, and was reared in southeast Nebraska, especially around Salem. He graduated from Humboldt High School (Humboldt, Nebraska) and Peru State Teachers College (Peru, Nebraska). He was married to Judith Kay Spiker on November 30, 1957. They had four children together and were married for 26 years.
He taught and coached at various schools throughout Kansas and Nebraska including those in the towns of Morrill, Powhattan, and Horton, Kansas. He served as the principal at Bancroft Elementary School in Bancroft, Kansas, near Wetmore. He also worked at Justice Manufacturing in Hiawatha and sold cars at Laird Noller Ford in Topeka in addition to running an Amway business for decades. For the past several years he owned a pilot-car operation that took him all over the country.
Jerry was active in Topeka Civitan as well as in several churches in and around Topeka and Springfield, Missouri. In later years he ardently supported and participated in the work of Greene County Prison Ministry in Springfield and Gideons International.
He is preceded in death by his parents and by a brother, Thomas Von Whitney (Shirley). He is survived by four children: Julie Whitney (Kyle Hammersmith) of Lynchburg, Virginia; Wayne Whitney of Phoenix, Arizona; Joyce Dougherty (Andy) of North Aurora, Illinois; and Jacqueline Whitney Lightcap (Torey) of Topeka. He is also survived by nine grandchildren: Gabriel and Annie Lightcap of Topeka; Brianne and Danielle Dougherty of Oak Forest, Illinois; and Kylee, Zachary, Griffin, Marabeth, and Samuel Hammersmith, of Lynchburg, Virginia.
Jerry’s faith in God was paramount to him. At about the age of eleven, he was baptized in the pond at the Burton Williamson family farm in Dawson, Nebraska, in conjunction with the Evangelical United Brethren Church of Dawson. He spent many hours studying the Bible and listening to sermons, and was always most eager to openly share his faith in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. This he considered a matter of deepest urgency for knowing the redeeming love of God made manifest in Jesus. Toward the end of his life, Jerry styled his evangelism as SOTJ, or Sold Out To Jesus.
He was fond of the acronym KTFPO, a gloss on Philippians chapter 3, in which Paul exhorts the followers of Christ to “keep the faith” and “press on” toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Jesus.
Throughout his life, Jerry enjoyed raising horses, dancing, listening to Gospel music, and playing cards with family and friends. He was no stranger to the physical labor required to manage farms and ranches. As a teacher, he was a clear communicator of ideas and could tell fascinating stories from his family’s history. He rarely sat still unless he could be enticed to have a bowl of popcorn and catch up on an old episode of “Gunsmoke.”
In lieu of flowers, the family encourages direct memorial contributions to Gideons International using its web site, https://www2.gideons.org/donate, or by mail: The Gideons International Processing Center, P.O. Box 97251, Washington, DC 20090. Donations may also be made to Civitan Club of Topeka, P.O. Box 1204, Topeka, KS 66601.
Dove Cremation and Funeral Service, of Junction City, KS, is assisting the family with cremation arrangements.
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