Obituary of John Whitty
John C. Whitty passed away peacefully in his home on Sunday, January 7, 2018 following a number of years of declining health. He was a unique person – a Renaissance man who lived a rich and varied life and touched many people with his wit, intellect, talent, and kindness. His accomplishments ranged from performing major roles in outdoor dramas and stage productions, to dog obedience training, to knitting his grandchildren’s Christmas stockings, and more.
John was born on January 22nd, 1936 in Kinston, NC, to the late John C. Whitty, Sr. and the late Kathleen Hatcher Whitty. John was a graduate of The Woodberry Forest School in Orange, Virginia, and received both his undergraduate and Master’s degrees from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He earned his Ph.D. in Theatre History from the University of Iowa. He returned to Chapel Hill, where he began his teaching career.
John was a professor of theatre at The University of Wisconsin Milwaukee where his production of A Servant of Two Masters was selected to be performed at the American College Theatre Festival in Washington, DC. He spent the majority of his professional career at West Virginia University, where he was a professor of theatre for many years, as well as Chairman of the Department of Theatre for a brief time. He also directed and performed in numerous productions.
In the early 1980’s John and his family spent several summers in Cherokee, NC, where they performed in the outdoor drama, Unto These Hills. He served as stage manager and played leading roles.
A founding member of St. Thomas a Becket Episcopal Church, John served in various leadership capacities and sang in the choir.
John is survived by Sarah, his loving wife of 56 years, whom he met while they both were performing in The Lost Colony in Manteo, NC. They were married at St. Andrews by the Sea Episcopal Church in Nags Head, NC in 1961. He is also survived by his three daughters, Katherine Whitty of Atlanta, Georgia, Susannah Azzaro of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Page Borger (Paul) of Chagrin Falls, Ohio. In addition, he is survived by his five grandchildren, Alana Azzaro, Joseph Azzaro, John Borger, Jacob Borger, and Jade Borger. John is also survived by his sister and brother, Frances Whitty Donahue of Pensacola, Florida, and David I. Whitty (Mary) of St. Simon’s Island, Georgia, as well as three nieces.
Cremation services have been entrusted to Hastings Funeral Home. A memorial service will be held at a later date. Memorial donations may be made to the West Virginia University School of Theatre and Dance, https://give.wvu.edu/theatre-and-dance, or St. Thomas a Becket Episcopal Church, 75 Old Cheat Road, Morgantown, WV 26508. The family wishes to extend their gratitude to everyone who has supported John and Sarah, especially Drs. Gabriella Horvath and John Lobban, as well as West Virginia Caring Hospice.