Jerry Frank Whitson, 85, died February 13, 2021 in Oklahoma City. Born April 20, 1935 in Oklahoma City to Frank and Lottie Whitson (Cummings), he was raised by his mother and maternal grandparents in the Bartlesville and Dewey, OK area, where they moved in 1938. He graduated from Bartlesville College High School in 1953.
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Jerry began working at the early age of 11, selling newspapers on a downtown Bartlesville street corner, and took on other various jobs to help support his mother and contribute toward purchasing school supplies, clothing, and other necessities. During his junior and senior years of high school, he had his first full-time job with Reda Pump Company and was hired in 1954 by Phillips Petroleum Company in Bartlesville. While employed at Phillips, he studied drafting with ICS correspondence school and carpooled to Tulsa to attend classes at the University of Tulsa.
He married his best friend, Marilyn Craighead, in 1957 and the couple moved to Oklahoma City in 1964, where Jerry opened and operated two successful plumbing and hardware stores in OKC and Moore. After several years, he sold the businesses and was hired by the Glidden Company, continuing a successful career path in sales and sales management. He was recognized by Glidden as the number one salesperson nationally for ten years, earning sales management positions with increasing responsibilities before he was promoted to the position of Vice President and General Sales Manager of a regional division of ICI Chemical Company of Great Britain.
Jerry and Marilyn had one son, Scott Whitson and a daughter, Sheila Whitson. The family relocated with Jerry’s work through the years, moving to Tulsa, OK and Plano, TX before permanently returning to Oklahoma City. Jerry and Marilyn developed many longtime friendships while attending Capitol Hill Assembly of God in Oklahoma City. He was a long-time member of the Assemblies of God, where he served on two boards.
Marilyn passed away early in 1999, a year before Jerry’s retirement from PPG. In 2000, he married Janice Kemp, who with her late husband, Don, had been long-time friends of Jerry and Marilyn. After their marriage, he and Janice attended Crossings Community Church, where Jerry shared his smiling face and love for people while serving as a regular Sunday morning greeter. The couple later became members of Quail Springs Baptist Church.
Church became an important part of his life at a young age and throughout his life, his character was grounded by his faith and relationship with God. He lived these values, and by example, enriched and blessed the lives of his family, friends and virtually everyone he met.
Jerry enjoyed traveling with Jan and fishing every chance he got. He delighted in teaching his grandkids to fish, being outdoors and sharing good times together at his lake home in Eufaula, OK.
Jerry was preceded in death by his father, Frank Whitson; mother, Lottie Whitson; wife, Marilyn Whitson; and two half-sisters, Beatrice Alexander and Elizabeth Sykes.
A loving husband, father and adoring “PaPa”, Jerry is survived by his wife, Janice Kemp Whitson; son, Scott and wife, Mary, of Edmond; daughter, Sheila, of Edmond; Steven Kemp and wife, Vanessa, of Oklahoma City; grandchildren: Christopher Whitson and wife, Katie, of Melbourne Beach, FL; Taylor Phillips, of Edmond; Daniel McCoy and wife Claire, of Highlands Ranch, CO; Dustin and wife Lacee of Oklahoma City; Hunter Kemp of Oklahoma City; and Ava Jo Eisel of Oklahoma City; two great-grandchildren: Lynley McCoy, Jack McCoy.
The family is grateful for the love and care given to him by Sharece Taylor, RN, and other members of the Valir Hospice Care team. Jerry’s family and the many friends and others whose lives he touched will remember and love him always. There will be a private graveside service for the family. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Jerry’s memory to Valor Hospice of OKC or Quail Springs Baptist Church.