Walter Jenkins Whitley obituary photo
 
In Memory of

Walter Jenkins Whitley

August 28, 1924 - September 8, 2016

Obituary


Cdr. Walter Jenkins Whitley, USN Ret., age 92, of Newport, RI passed away peacefully at the Grand Islander Center in Middletown, RI on Thursday, September 9, 2016 surrounded by family and friends. The son of George L. G. Whitley and Mary I. Jenkins Whitley, Walter was born August 28, 1924 in Raleigh, NC.

After graduating Hugh Morson High School, Walter enlisted in the Navy as a Seaman. After WWII, he obtained a commission to the US Naval Academy and graduated in the Class of 1950. While attending the Academy he was the cartoonist...

Cdr. Walter Jenkins Whitley, USN Ret., age 92, of Newport, RI passed away peacefully at the Grand Islander Center in Middletown, RI on Thursday, September 9, 2016 surrounded by family and friends. The son of George L. G. Whitley and Mary I. Jenkins Whitley, Walter was born August 28, 1924 in Raleigh, NC.

After graduating Hugh Morson High School, Walter enlisted in the Navy as a Seaman. After WWII, he obtained a commission to the US Naval Academy and graduated in the Class of 1950. While attending the Academy he was the cartoonist for their newspaper and yearbook under the nickname "WOOB". He was also on the fencing team.

On April 11, 1952 he married his sweetheart, Susanne Williams Park, also of Raleigh, NC. During his Navy career they lived in Hingham, MA; San Diego, CA; Charleston, SC and Norfolk, VA, where he took command of a minesweeper. It was on board this ship that he first traveled to Newport and fell in love with the city. In 1963 he received orders to come to the War College and became Aide to an Admiral.

As a hobby Walter invented board games, one of which was published in 1964, called '$quander'. From his royalties he purchased an 18th century home in The Point neighborhood of Newport. He and Susanne restored their home and became active members of Operation Clapboard, an organization instrumental in saving many 18c homes. While under restoration he and Susanne occupied the house with their 2 small children, moving from room to room until it was completed in 1967. They became heavily involved in the Point Association allowing many house tours of their home to promote Historic restoration in Newport. In 1968 Doris Duke visited them to see what the restoration of a Colonial Home would look like. She made the decision to start the Newport Restoration Foundation in their living room and continued on to save 73 more colonial homes.

Walter and Susanne became involved in many other Newport endeavors. One was the resurrection of The Newport Music Festival in 1969. Walter, a classical music aficionado, was involved in fund raising and volunteered for the festival, along with Susanne and their children, until 1975. He provided the festival with multiple recordings of musical pieces from his vast collection of classical albums to help put together the first festival. This collection now resides in the Redwood Library in Newport.

Walter retired from the Navy in 1972 after 30 years of service, restored another house on The Point and then followed Susanne's footsteps into Real Estate. He worked at Carey, Richmond & Viking for his entire 35 year career. He specialized in Historic Homes and was responsible for the purchase and restoration of over 50 colonial Newport homes during his career, mainly in his own neighborhood and some many times over. He was a true visionary who saw what restored Newport could become. In the late 70's he had trouble selling one such home on S. Baptist Street, so he changed the ad to read "Gem located in the Heart of the Yachting Village". The phone rang off the hook from Realtors wanting to know the location of this neighborhood - and he sold the house shortly after. His nickname amongst his real estate peers was "The Dean of Real Estate".

As his career matured, he became more involved in his main interest, genealogy, and his clubs and organizations. He was an active member of: Operation Clapboard; Trinity Church; Seaman's Church Institute; The Redwood Library; The Newport Preservation Society; Quindecim and The English Speaking Union. He belonged to many Genealogical Societies: RI Sons of the American Revolution (SAR); NC Sons of the American Revolution; RI Sons of the Revolution (SR); RI Society of Colonial Wars (Past Governor); MA Society of Colonial Wars; First Families of North Carolina; First Families of Virginia; Jamestown Society; Huguenot Society; Order of Descendants of Ancient Planters; Baronial Order of the Magna Carta; Order of Military Crusades; Order of the Crown of Charlemagne; Victorian Military Society. He was also a member of The Newport Reading Room and The Clambake Club of Newport.

Every 4thof July he would proudly read the Declaration of Independence for over a decade from the Colony House steps, a tradition that has been kept since it was first written.

Walter, a true southern gentleman, was a loving husband and father and had many wonderful friends. He had a great sense of humor and treated everyone with warmth and kindness. He will be sadly missed by many.

He is survived by his son George L.G. Whitley IV and his wife Madeleine of New Bedford, MA; and daughter Portia Bonner S. Whitley of Newport.

He is predeceased by his wife Susanne to whom he was married for 63 years; sister Isabel J. Repony; brother George L.G. Whitley; brother J. Stuart Whitley and sister Portia Bonner S. Whitley.

Visitation with family and friends will be held in Raleigh, Tuesday September 20th at Brown-Wynne Funeral Home between 1:30-2:30, 300 St. Mary's Street, Raleigh, NC, 27605. Graveside service will be at 3:00 at Oakwood Cemetery, with Rev. Rick Clayton presiding.

Donations in his memory can be made to Trinity Church, One Queen Anne Square, Newport, RI 02840.

The family would like to thank The Grand Islander staff for years of care and compassion toward Walter, Susanne and the family, and also Visiting Nurses of RI.

Condolences may be made through brownwynne.com