John Whitman

Posted By | August 13, 2019 1:48 pm

On Aug. 12, 2019, at his home, John went to his eternal home with the Lord. John and his wife, Muriel, moved, in May 2019, from their lifelong residence, in St. Petersburg, Florida, to Sparta, Tennessee, where they lived with their daughter, Barbara, and her husband, Chuck.

John was born in Miami, Florida, on Dec. 9, 1926, and lived in Florida all his life prior to coming to Sparta. As a teen in St. Petersburg, John worked as a waiter at the impressive Coliseum and got to serve many celebrities. John served in the U.S. Army during World War II and received training as an engineer, with deployment to Italy to serve in the Italian theater of operations in charge of dynamite/explosions.

Upon returning to the United States, John worked in accounting and began his love and appreciation of classical music and opera. John sang bass roles with opera companies in North Carolina and Florida. One of his highlights was singing the bass role of the doctor in the opera, La Traviata, that played in Tampa, Florida, in 1956. It was during this time John met the love of his life, Muriel. He was offered an opportunity to sing with the New York Metropolitan Opera, in 1956, but turned it down in order to marry Muriel and become a father to her two children, Pauline and William. The next year, the couple welcomed their daughter, Barbara.

John rose to work as an industrial engineer in charge of renovation for General Telephone, in Tampa, Florida, where he retired in 1986. After retiring, John served as an arbitrator with the Better Business Bureau of West Florida, handling Lemon Law cases and other consumer disputes.

Throughout their marriage, John and Muriel traveled extensively, especially enjoying cruises, visiting Muriel’s homeland of Panama, and family vacations in Highland, North Carolina.

John loved his family with a passion and protectiveness. He truly modeled the role of husband, father, and grandfather. John was always the solid force behind Muriel, being content to encourage her dreams. John never lost his love of opera, and it was common to hear him practice or listen to one of his favorite composers, Rachmaninoff.

He was preceded in death, just three days prior, by his wife of 62 years, Muriel. He was also preceded in death by father, John Roland Whitman; mother, Cleo Whitman Pickett; and son, William Arnold Sr.

He is survived by two daughters, Barbara Lancaster (Chuck), of Sparta,

Pauline Arnold, of Walling; sister-in-law, Frances Haile (David), of Blairsville, Georgia; grandsons, John Arnold (Amy) of Trinity, North Carolina, William Arnold Jr. (Ashley), of High Springs, Florida, Devin Umberger (Rebecca), of Cookeville, Teague Umberger (Ashley), of Doyle; and step-grandson, Ryan Lancaster (Morgan), of Inverness, Florida.

Additionally, John had many great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren as well as nieces and nephews. He will leave behind many friends and acquaintances.

His family wishes to thank Avalon Hospice, Hampton’s Crossroads Baptist Church family, and Lisa Gibson for her special help during this time. A celebration of John and Muriel’s life will be held at a later date.

Oak Lawn Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

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