Valjean Whitaker
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Obituary of Valjean Whitaker

Valjean Shepperd Whitaker, 92, of Clinton, Missouri, died Friday April 20, 2007 at the Beverly Living Center-Westwood. He was born in Blairstown, Mo., on October 30, 1914 to Homer Craig Whitaker and Ruby Lee (Shepperd) Whitaker.

Val was a 1932 graduate of the Chilhowee High School and attended Central Missouri State Teachers College in Warrensburg for one year. After completing his first year of college he returned to Blairstown and accepted a job at the Farmers Bank as bookkeeper. In 1942 he enlisted in the U.S Naval Reserve as a Third Class Yeoman. Following boot camp, he was transferred to Great Lakes Naval Station at Northwestern University to a naval radar school to serve in the personnel department. After two years he was transferred to two ships: the USS Ardent and later a U.S. attack transport, the USS Sibley. While serving aboard the USS Sibley, he was a part of the invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. While aboard ship, he witnessed the raising of the United States flag on Iwo Jima. Later he met and talked with Joe Rosenthal, the photographer who took the famous picture of this event. After arriving back in the states on a twenty day leave, he was discharged at Great Lakes, Illinois in 1946.

In later years he became President of the Farmers Bank, Vice-President of the Deepwater State Bank, and Consulting Director of the Bank of Warrensburg. He was on the district council of Boy Scouts of America while in Blairstown and also officiated many basketball games.

On October 16, 1948 he married the former Helen Louise Shrout in Kansas City, Mo. They spent the next 45 years in Blairstown and he was a member of the Blairstown Presbyterian Church. After retiring, they moved to Clinton where he was a member of the First Presbyterian Church. He was a devout Presbyterian, serving as Elder in both Blairstown and Clinton, and became moderator of the Sedalia Presbytery. He served four years on the executive committee of the Missouri Synod and six years on the Christian College Committee of the Kansas City Presbytery.

He served four years on the United Funds Committee and was Vice-President the last year. He also served on the Henry County Health Committee as treasurer. He was a Past President of the Tri-County Bankers Association; a member of the 50 Year Club of the Missouri Bankers Association; a member of the Clinton Rotary Club; and a charter member of the Meadow Lake Golf Club.

Val loved all sports and played tennis, baseball and golf. He was a left-handed hitter and lead-off man, hitting over a .300 average in baseball in the 1930�s. He loved to tell about how he was offered a try-out with the American White Sox. He also loved quail hunting with his dog in the hills and streams on farms around Blairstown.

He is survived by his wife Helen of the home; a sister Jane Jones of Clinton; four nieces, Beverly Hocker of Lee's Summit, Mo.; Deborah Johnson of Harrisonville, Mo.; Carla Bensinger of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; and Rosale Bradley of Jamesville, California; a nephew, Victor Whitaker of Clever, Mo.; and two sisters-in-law, Lillian McCune and her husband William of Prairie Village, Kansas; and Alice Bradley of Jamesville, Ca. Val was preceded in death by his parents and two brothers, Doyne and Conrad Whitaker.

Funeral services will be Tuesday, April 24, 2007, 2:00 p.m., at the Bradley & Hadley Funeral Home, Clinton, Mo., with Rev. Albert McDowell officiating. Burial will be in the Carpenter Cemetery, rural Chilhowee, Mo. The family will receive friends Monday evening from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Bradley & Hadley Funeral Home. The family suggests contributions to the First Presbyterian Church in care of the funeral home.

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