William “Bill” Whittaker 1929-2014
William (Bill) Von Whittaker, 85, of Eagle, and Green Valley, Ariz., began his journey across the Rainbow Bridge, Dec. 30, 2014 at hospice in Tucson, after a short battle with cancer.
Born May 11, 1929 in Glenwood Springs, the oldest son of Jesse Gordon and LaVeta Irene (Randall) Whittaker. Bill is survived by his lady, Jean Creagan and daughter Cathleen of Green Valley, Ariz.; his sisters, Mary Ann Carter (Joe) and Jo Ann Potter; brothers Jerry Whittaker of Grand Junction, Jack Whittaker (Rosie) of Aurora; children, William (Bill) Whittaker (Kris), Vanda Whittaker (John Evancho) of Eagle; Kendra Whittaker (Don Weber), Bayfield, Jeane Chrest (step) of Charleston, WV; grandchildren Joshua and Shiann Homer, Johnna Biggers, Shawn Homer, Michaella and Kraig Noel, Jeane Lou (Chrest) Smith, David and Michael Chrest, and great-grandchildren Avalynn Elise, Garrett and Evan Homer, Lexie Noel, Ariana Chrest, Thomas, Zachary and Joshua Peterson.
Bill started elementary in a one room school house on Brush Creek and graduated high school in Gypsum in 1948. Bill grew up on, worked and maintained the family sheep/cattle ranches on Brush Creek and Bruce Creek, in the Eagle area, for 43 years. In 1948, while skiing at Elk Horn, the family ski run on Bruce Creek, Bill injured his back. Although he was told he’d eventually be in a wheelchair, this Colorado pioneer and mountain man rancher, walked daily and danced the last week of his life.
In addition to the ranch, Bill worked for the town of Eagle, operating the water/sewer treatment plant and in the early 1970’s and worked ski lift maintenance on Vail Mountain. Bill documented his life in pictures, dating, naming names in photos over 100-plus years. A skilled gardener, Bill grew tomatoes and watermelon where no one else could, and always had fresh potatoes, carrots and jars of raspberry jam in winter. An avid outdoors man, Bill gathered wild mushrooms, hunted, fished and spent days in the saddle riding the land of the ranch and the back country and roads of Eagle County.
In October, 1952, he married Joyce Lorraine Amichaux(Reiche) of Glenwood Springs. They had four children. William (Bill), Kendra, Steven and Vanda. Steve drowned in Brush Creek, June 25th, 1962, at age 3.
Bill married Mary Frances (Fran) Brown in 1966. Married 38 years, they lived at the ranch on Bruce Creek until 1991. The couple lived in Yuma, Ariz. and Grand Junction before finally settling in Green Valley, Ariz. Fran died in Green Valley, May, 2005.
Told he had six months to live on Dec. 23, Bill went to a Christmas party, “cowboy dancing” with Jean that evening. Entering hospice on December 28, Bill walked his last walk, down the hallways, on December 29. Bill teased the nurses and everyone else, refused medications and fought hard, until the end. On December 30, Bill silently slipped away, when he had a minute to be alone.
Bill was preceded in death by son, Steven Wayne; parents, Gordon and LaVeta Whittaker; grandparents Albert Von and Mary Alice (Maude) Whittaker; William and Mattie Randall; sister-in-law, Candy Whittaker; brother-in-law, Dwayne Potter; and Bill’s wife of 38 years, Mary Frances(Fran) Brown.