header 1
header 2
header 3

In Memoriam

John Whitmore - Class Of 1969 VIEW PROFILE

John Whitmore

With sadness I want to let you know that John Whitmore died peacefully in his sleep this morning after a battle with cancer. John and I met in September of 1956, the start of Kindergarten, so it was a lifelong friendship. His senior year in high school his family moved from Indian Hills to Tacoma Hills. His parents would go to their cottage on weekends during the nice weather. John would have a few friends over for the weekend. Sometime people would call it a party. We enjoyed many walks around the lagoon very late in the evening. After graduating from MSU, John moved to St. Paul and sometime after that we started calling each other every day. A little odd maybe, but that’s what we did. He started his career in the title insurance business. First, he was working for a large company, then for himself. He and Connie married after a few years in St. Paul. They had one daughter, Margaret. Connie was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in February of 2018. She died in November 2018. John was diagnosed in January of 2019. The last few weeks we were talking two or more times a day. We had many visits back and forth, a lot more after Connie was diagnosed. I’m going to miss him, especially our daily talks. He was the best conversationalist you will ever meet, plus a pretty good piano player.

Sky Tribell '69

Obituary - John Whitmore class of 1969

Age 69 Died at his home on April 8, 2020. He is preceded in death by parents Max and LaMoine and wife, Connie. He is survived by daughter, Margaret and brothers Jim and Ron. John was born in Lansing, Michigan, graduated from Michigan State University in 1974, and moved to Minnesota that same year. Service arrangements are postponed until a safer time. Donations may be made to the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

Published in Pioneer Press on Apr. 22, 2020.

*NOTE:  21 April 2020 - John died during the growing COVID-19 worldwide pandemic, causing our country to impose 'social distancing'.  This has restricted the gathering of our nation's citizens, including family ceremonies such as weddings and funerals.  

Obituary - Connie Harris WHITMORE

Age 66, died on her 41st anniversary, November 26, 2018. She is preceded in death by her mother, Geraldine. She is survived by her father Stan and sisters Kathy, Cheryl, Karen and Carol, husband John and daughter Margaret. Connie was born in Houston, Texas, graduated from Michigan State in 1974 and moved with John to Minnesota in 1974. Services will be held at 11:00 on Thursday, December 6, at Roseville Lutheran Church, 1215 W. Roselawn Ave., Roseville. Donations may be made to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

Published in Pioneer Press on Dec. 2, 2018


go to bottom 
  Post Comment

04/10/20 08:38 AM #1    

Sylvia Stevens (1969)

I share your sadness, Sky.  John was unique in many ways.  Not only a great conversationalist, but an impressive socialite.  If you ever wanted any news (gossip?) about a classmate, he was my go to.  He stayed in touch with everyone-and all of us reached out to him when we wanted to talk. It was a rare occasion when he didn't pick up after a few rings-he was generous with his time and forthcoming with news, views and support. He, Connie, and Margaret visited us in Virginia about 20 years ago.  Becca and Margaret hit it off well.  Many years later, Allen and I visited them in St Paul where we were treated to a highlights tour of the area including a visit to the Fitzgerald Theater. Although my contact with him these past few years was sporadic, I'll miss him.  





04/10/20 01:19 PM #2    

Tim Gallagher (1969)

What a great and loyal friend to so many people.  John was in Bev's and my wedding and I was in his.  High School and College classmates and lifelong friends...I will miss our visits both face to face and on the phone.  He was a prolific music collector and took great pride in arranging cassette tapes and later CDs into theme and.or genre playlists.  He and I exchanged music frequently and he would always insist on the importance of not hitting random play when I listened to the CDs he made for me.  If for some reason I wasn't 100% happy with his choices of songs, we would have to discuss it at great length.  For my work, I made frequent trips to Minnepaolis/St Paul and each time I visited John we would tour parts of ther community that I had not seen before.  He loved St Paul and was very proud of it.  I would say that John would have easilly been considered the number one OHS historian specializing in classes of '69 and '70.  As Sylvia and Sky both related, he was a wonderful person to visit with.  He could be very charming.  He had no shortage of friends and he always had an interesting story about several of them.  John's wife Connie was incredibly smart and a leader in her profession.  She was highly respected within her company.  She was a beautiful person inside and outside.  I often asked John how he was able to attract her enough to marry him.  My thoughts go out to all of you who were friends with John...especially Jill and Sky Tribell whom I know were John's closest Okemos allies.  Also to Margaret Whitmore...I hope she will find strength and peace in the memories that her parents have left for her and the Harris-Whitmore genes that she is gifted with.  Tim Gallagher '69

04/10/20 05:16 PM #3    

Laura Cheney (Gladwin) (1969)

I express my sincere sadness and send my deepest sympathy to John's family. As Sky, Sylvia and Tim have shared, John was an amazing classmate. He was easy to talk with, so kind and gracious and brought laughter and joy to so many of us. We stayed intouch during college days, before I moved away. However, my fondest memories are from our high school years when the boys, John and friends, would "crash" our girl sleep over parties. Somehow we always selected a home to TP and John was one of the best to accomplish a beautiful creation.  May you rest in peace dear friend.

04/11/20 09:15 AM #4    

Steve Shirley (1969)

John was aware of his termiinal illness from which he was symptomatic at the time of Connie's death.  I would call him on my commutes to work.  Our conversations always would start out with sadness and medical tallk, but soon reminiscing about good times, updates on classmates and others.  He especially fondly remembered a visit from Barb Fischel and Nancy Heardt.  From that point on, he was the same upbeat delightful John Whitmore. His memory for detail of previous conversations and events was as amazing as was his love for his old classmates.  40-50 minutes later I would arrive at work with the conversation still going full tilt.

I spent the month of January 1991 with the family at the University of Minnnesota on sabatical.    On my 40th we rented a limo and toured the town.  This included taking it through the drive-thru at McDonalds to feed the kids before dropping them off at the sitters. During that trip John walked us down to the St Paul Curling center for a tour--intersting sight for Florida kids.  My son, soon to be 40 himself, still remembers John having a low power microscope trained on a petri dish growing mold and taking time-lapse photos.  So many great memories.

As mentioned by Tim, John was quite a talented piano player.  Before his last remission he was in a rehab facility unable to get out of bed.  He said that his goal was to play all 3 pianos in the facility.....and he did!!

04/20/20 08:59 PM #5    

Gregory Sober (1969)

Sky, thank you for posting such a heartfelt tribute to John. It is sad news to hear of his passing. As everyone has noted, John was very dear and a most interesting person. We did not have much contact subsequent to OHS, other than several reunions and a brief encounter in 2012 when my wife, Colleen, and I met him for lunch in MN in the midst of our road trip from AZ to MI. After a short time, it seemed like those high school days were only days rather than decades earlier. So many fond memories of John and his influence. We spent many afternoons at his house in Indian Hills listening to records. His taste in music was eclectic; the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Sergio Mendes, Henry Mancini. I know in recent years he had become a big Sinatra fan. As Sky mentioned, he was a wonderful piano player. It was very easy to just sit and listen to him play. My own music “career” intersected with John's in band class. When I started playing trombone, somehow I ended up as the 1st chair in that section. That situation prevailed through 6th and 7th grade. However, in 8th grade when Rick Moffitt came to Okemos, he demonstrated how well someone could play if they really practiced. So, I drifted down from 1st chair to last chair. It turned out that wasn't too bad because John became my next-door neighbor in the baritone section. That made band so much more fun! Another memory is of John spending a sleepover with me in our back yard on Shawnee Trail. At least it was supposed to be a sleepover. Sometime in the middle of the night, we decided to walk over to Laurie Ahti's house in Forest Hills. Such a long walk in the dark. Why? I don't recall that we actually talked with Laurie, but it was worth overcoming the obstacles at any rate. Actually the biggest obstacle we encountered was when crossing a field in the pitch black, we unexpectedly came face to face with a cow! A high school incident also comes to mind. October 21, 1965. Some of you might also remember this. The scheme was hatched during one of those afternoons at John's house. I think Keith Wilkins was a co-conspirator. According to Michigan statute MCL 340.368 (since repealed) October 21st was to include teaching students about Will Carleton, Michigan's honorary poet laureate (most remembered for his poem “Over the Hill To the Poor House”). A 16-page instructional handout on the topic of Will Carlton was placed in the mailboxes of all the teachers at OHS. ( I still have a copy.) At the start of the school day, a co-conspirator used the PA system to announce a surprise agenda item added to that day's 1st-hour lesson plan. All teachers were to spend the class time on the topic of Will Carleton. The 16-page handout noted, “If this material is presented to your first-hour class, it will remove the necessity of having a special assembly.” I happened to be in Mrs. Travis's class at that hour, and she didn't buy it. So, you see, John Whitmore had a significant impression on those of us who knew him, but also on countless other Michigan residents who have a profound appreciation of Will Carleton, but they don't really know why. Such an audacious, considerate, knowledgeable, witty, erudite, sweet man. With John's influence, our world was more light-hearted. Now our hearts are heavy.

go to top 
  Post Comment


Click here to see John's last Profile entry.