Jerry Dean Whitney of Niangua, MO, formerly of Topeka, KS, passed away on Feb. 20, 2018 in Junction City, KS. Jerry was born on Aug. 13, 1936 in Stella, NE, to Deo Von and Julia Maude (Davis) Whitney, and was reared in Southeast Nebraska, especially around Salem.
He graduated from Humboldt High School and Peru State Teachers College (Peru, NE). He was married to Judith Kay Spiker on Nov. 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 town of Morrill, Powhattan and Horton, KS. He served as the principal at Bancroft Elementary School in Bancroft, KS, 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, MO. In later years he ardently supported and participated in the work of Greene County Prison Ministry in Springfield and Gideons International.
He was preceded in death by his parents and by and a brother, Thomas Von Whitney (Shirley).
He is survived by four children; Julie Whitney (Kyle Hammersmith), of Lynchburg, VA; Wayne Whitney of Phoenix, AZ; Joyce Dougherty (Andy) of North Aurora, IL; 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, IL; and Kylee, Zachary, Griffin, Marabeth, and Samuel Hammersmith, of Lynchburg, VA.
Jerry’s faith in God was paramount to him. At about the age of 11, he was baptized in the pond at the Burton Williamson family farm in Dawson, NE, 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 opening share is 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.’
A public memorial service took place Saturday, Feb. 24, in All Saints Hall at Grace Episcopal Cathedral, 708 SW 8th St. in Topeka. Private interment will occur at a later date in Maple Cemetery, Salem, NE.