Kenneth W. “Ken” Whitaker, 90, a longtime resident of Silver Lake, Harrisville, and formerly of Keene, died on Nov. 8, 2020, on his 90th birthday. He passed peacefully with the love of family near at his daughter’s home in Swanzey.
Kenneth was born the son of the late Maude (Russell) and Wilber Whitaker on Nov. 8, 1930, in Williamsville, Vt. He was educated in Thetford, Vt. and graduated from Thetford Academy with the class of 1948. He went on in his education and graduated from Lyndon Teachers College with a bachelor’s degree in education with the class of 1952. He later earned his master’s degree in education from Keene State College.
On Nov. 27, 1957, he exchanged vows with Mary L. Higgins at St. Assisi Roman Catholic Church in Norwich, Vt. They were married with family and friends in attendance. Sadly, Mary passed on May 4, 2011, after 53 years of marriage.
Ken was a patriot. He served his country in the U.S. Army and was honorably discharged on Aug. 31, 1961, at the rank of Private First Class — E3.
Ken was a devoted husband, father and grandfather and was affectionately called by his grandchildren as “Beepa” and “Pappa Ken.” His dedication and love for his wife was undeniable. When she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and he was not able to care for her at home any longer, it was his mission to ensure that she had the best care and made the daily trip to the nursing home to ensure she was getting the best care and attention needed.
Ken worked as a teacher and educator for the Keene school system, SAU 29, for 32 years before his retirement in June 1987. After retirement, he and Mary were able to enjoy travel to many areas of the world and country, starting with a trip to Hawaii right after retiring. He still enjoyed and looked forward to travelling with the family to St. Lucia every year.
He enjoyed many things in life. Time was spent playing tennis, downhill skiing, cross-country skiing and sailing. He was always up for a good game of cribbage. During the early and late summer he could be found picking strawberries and blueberries. He loved to bake and make homemade chocolates for friends and family. Ken was a longtime member of the New Hampshire Retired Teachers Association, Racket Club in Keene, Silver Lake tennis court and was active in the Silver Lake Association.
Mr. Whitaker is survived by his children: Martha “Marty” A. Joyal of Swanzey; and Andrew C. Whitaker and his wife, Mariann, of Andover, N.J.; his grandchildren: Tim Joyal and his wife, Jessica, of Swanzey; Abigail Whitaker; Morgan Whitaker; Gabrielle Whitaker; and Taylor Whitaker; a great-granddaughter, Leah Joyal; a brother, Ervin “Buster” Needham, of South Stratford, Vt.; and a sister in-law, Ardel Whitaker, of Hyde Park, Vt. In addition, he leaves cousins, nieces, nephews, extended family and friends. Ken is predeceased by his siblings: Charles Whitaker, Gerald Whitaker, Louise Bailey, Howard Whitaker, Josephine Enberg, Gene Needham and Jean Whittemore.
Calling hours will be held on Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020, from 2 to 4 p.m. in the funeral home at Cheshire Family Funeral Home and Crematories, 46 Winchester St., Swanzey. A graveside service with military honors will be held on Monday, Nov. 16, 2020, at 11 a.m. in the family lot at Willard Hill Cemetery, Chesham Road, Harrisville. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, masks and social distancing will be required. Flowers will gladly be accepted. However, the family would prefer donations be made in memory of Kenneth W. Whitaker to: Alzheimer’s Association, 166 South River Road, Bedford NH 03110; or to: Hospice and Community Services, 312 Marlboro St., Keene NH 03431. All services are under the care of Cheshire Family Funeral Home and Crematories, 46 Winchester St., Swanzey NH 03446 (www.cheshirefamilyfh.com).