Everett J. "Jeff" WhitfieldSeptember 4, 1921 ~ November 20, 2017 (age 96)
Everett Jethro “Jeff” Whitfield, age 96 years of Niles, Michigan died peacefully Monday morning, November 20, 2017 at his home, of natural causes.
He was born on September 11, 1921 in Mortons Gap, Kentucky to Lonnie and Effie Pearl (Withers) Whitfield. He was graduated from high school in Mortons Gap, and earned a degree in Engineering. He joined the United States Army Air Corps, becoming a pilot of the B-17 ‘Flying Fortress’, and was awarded the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Distinguished Flying Cross. He was Honorably Discharged as a First Lieutenant, and a veteran of World War II. He continued to serve in the United States Air Force Reserve for twelve years, earning the rank of Captain.
Jeff’s civilian career began at the former Studebaker plant in South Bend, Indiana, helping to design the production processes. He continued at the Pontiac Motor Company, and finally at Kaiser-Jeep and its successor, AM General for which he helped establish a military vehicle assembly plant in South Korea.
He attended the Calvary Baptist Church in South Bend, Indiana. He maintained a large vegetable garden, enjoyed fishing both in Lake Michigan and the “U.P.”, and walking. His dedication and discipline to walking allowed his family to calculate for his ninetieth birthday that he had completed 40,000 miles in daily walks.
On September 18, 1943 in Enid, Oklahoma he married the former Gertrude M. White with whom he celebrated the forty-seventh anniversary of their wedding prior to her death on October 18, 1990. He was also preceded in death by his brothers, Woodburn, Raymond, Quintin, and E. Franklin Whitfield.
He later married the former Lauraine (Mullen) Watson on June 26, 2004 in South Bend.
Surviving family includes his wife “Lari” Whitfield; his children, Judith (& John) Gleva, Sr. of South Bend and Mark Whitfield of Niles; grandchildren, Brooke Ford, John (& Kristin) Gleva, Jr., Dawn Gleva, and Kate Gleva; great-grandchildren Sandon, Kaylee, and John III; Lari’s children, Carri (& Mark) Thessin of Buchanan, Michigan and Dana (& Bruce) Bunch of Brashear, Missouri; grandchildren Brittany (& Josh) Demeulenaere and Danielle Hoskins; great-grandchildren Maci and Hanna; Jeff’s brother, Strother (& Caroline) Whitfield of Sun City West, Arizona, sister-in-law Theresa (Mrs. Frank) Whitfield; Gertrude’s sister, Marilyn Nolan; and many nieces and nephews.
The funeral service for Everett Whitfield will be at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, November 24, 2017 at the Halbritter Funeral Home in Niles, and will conclude with Full Military Honors by the United States Air Force Honor Guard and American Legion Post #51 of Buchanan. Committal will be private, at a later date, at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Buchanan.
The family will receive relatives and friends on Friday at the funeral home beginning at 1:00 p.m. Contributions in memory of Jeff may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, 2944 Fuller Avenue NE, Suite 101, Grand Rapids, MI 49505; or to an organization of the Donor’s Choice.
Alzheimer's Association Michigan Great Lakes
564 South Main Street, Suite 200, Ann Arbor MI 48104