April 19, 1939 -
December 24, 2020
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina - Don Whitaker, born in Kingston, N.Y. to Raymond "Oat" and Helen Lominska Whitaker, grew up in Saugerties, N.Y. Don attended Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y. and graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering and participated in the ROTC Program. After marrying his high school sweetheart, Joan Cotich, in 1961, Don joined the Army at Fort Lewis, WA. and was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in the Corp of Engineers. During this time, he and Joan were blessed with their two daughters, Susan and Nancy.
Accepting a position at Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati, OH., Don enjoyed a 30 plus year career involved in manufacturing, operations, sales, and logistics. In 1999 Don and Joan permanently moved to Hilton Head Island, SC. where they retired to enjoy the sun, the ocean and golf.
Don had a real passion for sports. Through High School he was an accomplished athlete and later a dedicated youth softball and soccer coach. He had a major impact on girls' sports, coaching Susan and Nancy's softball and soccer teams at a time when opportunities for the girls were rare. In 1995 Don was honored for his athletic prowess by being inducted into his Saugerties H.S. Sports Hall of Fame. He played baseball at Cornell, and as an adult enjoyed racquetball, tennis and then golf in his Hilton Head years. Don was an avid fan of the Cincinnati Reds and Bengals, enjoying trips to Super Bowl and World Series games. He loved horseracing, golf and most recently Clemson football.
Don is survived by his loving wife Joan of 59 years; his daughters and sons-in-law, Susan Stopka (Joe), and Nancy Voorhees (Chip); grandchildren Donald Stopka (Stephanie), AnnMarie Stopka, John Stopka, Emma Stopka, MaryAnn Lorts (Ed) and Joey Stopka (Emily); his brother Bob Whitaker (Sharon) and many nieces, nephews and great grandkids.
Don will always be remembered for his loyalty and love for his family, the steadfastness of his beliefs and celebrating the milestones in life. His honor and love were the foundation for his family. In life he was the ultimate sports fan and characterized in his playing days as "the ultimate leader". He will always be remembered as the leader of his family team.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests you make a donation to The Wounded Warrior Project or the charity of your choice. Service will be conducted at St. Francis of the Sea Catholic Church, Hilton Head Island at 10:30am Saturday, January 2nd. A Celebration of Life will follow immediately after the service at Port Royal Plantation Beach House. Don will be entombed at Six Oaks Cemetery in Sea Pines.