Harry Walton ‘Pete’ Whitley of Murfreesboro, 92, died peacefully on Friday, January 08, 2010 at Guardian Care of Ahoskie. He was born in Maney’s Neck (Como) on September 20, 1917 to C. Thomas and Mary Wise Whitley. He was preceded in death by his parents and all of his siblings and their spouses: brothers Manley T. (Lillian) and D. Randolph (Margaret) Whitley; sisters Thelma W. Cobb (Gardner); Sarah W. Hill (Tommy); Alice G. Whitley and Janet Whitley (infant).
Mr. Whitley served in the U.S. Coast Guard and briefly attended Wake Forest College and Chowan College but was unable to continue his formal education due to the economic impact the Great Depression had on his family. He worked as a salesman for Sterling Salt Company, living in Charlotte, NC and later moved ‘home’ to his native Hertford County to become the VP and General Manager of R-C Gas Sales and Furniture Company for over 40 years. Mr. Whitley was involved in many area civic organizations and was an active member of Murfreesboro Baptist Church for more than 60 years. He was instrumental in the development of the historic district in Murfreesboro, having sought funding from his friends in the NC Legislature. He served as President of the Murfreesboro Historical Association and was a board member for many years. He also served on the Historic Murfreesboro Commission for over 30 years. He was one of the founders of Ridgecroft School and was a member of the original board of directors, serving until 1977. He was one of the early chairmen of the Hertford County Industrial Development Commission.
Mr. Whitley was president of the North Carolina LP Gas Association in the mid-1960’s. He was a member of the Murfreesboro Rotary Club for more than 50 years and served as president. He was a Paul Harris Fellow. He was a Master Mason of American George Lodge #17 for 61 years and was a past president of the Roanoke-Chowan Shrine Club. He was also a member of the Murfreesboro Exchange Club. Mr. Whitley was very active in the Democratic Party serving as the Hertford County party chairman and as a district officer in the 1960’s. He was the county/area ‘key’ for numerous Democratic candidates over the years including Governor and US Senator Terry Sanford, US Representative Walter B. Jones, Sr., Governors Bob Scott and Jim Hunt and others. He was privileged to have attended the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy. He was appointed to the NC Board of Air and Water Resources in the late 1960’s by Governor Bob Scott. He was appointed to the NC Environmental Management Commission, serving as chairman, by Governor Jim Hunt in the late 1970’s.
Pete was an avid fisherman and boater and was the principle owner of Tuscarora Beach in Winton for many years. He declared many times that ‘the Chowan River is the most beautiful place on earth’. Fishing was his ‘therapy’.
Mr. Whitley is survived by his cherished and devoted wife of almost 65 years, Lucille Woodard Whitley of the home; two sons, Harry W. Whitley, Jr. and wife Becky of Greenville, NC and Randolph (‘ Randy’) W. Whitley and wife Cheryl of Murfreesboro; daughter, LuAnn W. Joyner and husband Don of Ahoskie; grandchildren Harry W. ‘Pete’ Whitley, III and wife Corrie of Wilmington, NC; Amanda W. Brett and husband Ian of Kernersville, NC; Wingate G. ‘Win’ Joyner, III of Winston-Salem, NC; and Elizabeth Lucille Whitley Joyner of Ahoskie; great-grandson Jacob Alexander Whitley of Wilmington; 13 nieces and nephews and many friends and ‘fishing buddies’.
Visitation will be Saturday, January 9 at Garrett-Jones Funeral Home in Ahoskie from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. and at other times at the family home in Murfreesboro.
The Memorial service will be on Sunday, January 10 at 3:00 p.m. at Murfreesboro Baptist Church with the Reverends Lee Canipe and Thomas Caulkins officiating.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Murfreesboro Baptist Church (P.O. Box 124, Murfreesboro, NC 27855), Chowan University (One University Place, Murfreesboro), Murfreesboro Historical Association (P.O. Box 3, Murfreesboro) or Ridgecroft School (P.O. Box 1008, Ahoskie, NC 27910).