Gary Lee Whittaker, age 73 years of Niles, Michigan died peacefully at 5:00 a.m. on Wednesday, May 15, 2019 at his home in Niles following an extended illness.
He was born on October 19, 1945 in South Bend, Indiana to Leonard E. and Laverne N. (Mainard) Whittaker, Sr. He was graduated in 1964 from Niles High School, and attended Acme Tool College. He served in the United States Army Signal Corps, helped establish communication lines, and was Honorably Discharged as a Veteran of the Vietnam Era. Back in Niles, he was employed by several area automobile dealerships as a mechanic and auto body repairman.
Gary attended the First Baptist Church of Niles. He was a member and past commander and chaplain of the former Niles VFW, and a member of the American Legion. He enjoyed automobile racing, working in the shop and the pits and driving for the Whittaker Racing Team at the South Bend Motor Speedway. He was also enjoyed watching NASCAR.
On August 16, 1969 at the First Baptist Church of Niles he married the former Celia Ann Blackburn with whom he celebrated last year the forty-ninth anniversary of their wedding.
He was preceded in death by his parents and by a brother, William Whittaker on March 7, 1990.
Surviving family includes his wife, Celia Whittaker and their daughter, Angela (& Frank) Vella of Niles; grandson Tyler Weedon; and Gary’s siblings, Sue (& Gary) Wilks of Aurora, Missouri, Nancy Hildenbrant of Rochester, Washington, and Leonard (& Sherry) Whittaker of Niles; and several nieces and nephews.
The funeral service for Gary Whittaker will be at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 18, 2019 at the First Baptist Church, 1446 East Main Street in Niles with Pastor Mark Youngberg officiating. Services will conclude with the Veteran’s Flag Presentation and “Taps” by the United States Army Honor Guard.
The family will receive relatives and friends on Saturday at the church beginning at 3:00 p.m. Arrangements were made at the Halbritter-Wickens Funeral Home, 615 East Main Street in Niles.