Cover photo for Frank Grant Whitney, Jr's Obituary
Frank Grant Whitney, Jr Profile Photo
1923 Frank 2017

Frank Grant Whitney, Jr

May 7, 1923 — March 14, 2017

Before dawn on the morning of March 14, 2017, our Nation lost another member of the “Greatest Generation” when Frank Grant Whitney Jr, slipped the surly bonds of earth and soared aloft on his final flight. Beloved husband of LaVonne, loving father of Christine and Marilyn and proud grandfather of Daniel, Frank was a devoted family man and a devout Christian who loved his country immensely.

Frank was born on May 7, 1923 in Washington D.C. to Frank Grant, Sr, and Miriam Alethea (née Hagerman) Whitney. He spent his childhood in Tampa, FL, where his father designed the city flag which still flies today. His family later moved to Knoxville, TN, where he graduated from Central High School. After high school, Frank took a job with Dun and Bradstreet in Chattanooga and moved up the clerk ranks quickly.

A year after the Pearl Harbor attack and hearing the call of his country during World War II, Frank told his boss he was volunteering for the Army. He was trained as an aerial gunner and eventually ended up serving as a radio operator on B-17s flying with the Eighth Air Force’s 306 Bomb Group out of Thurleigh, England. He completed 35 combat missions over Germany and was awarded five air medals. He gained a sixth for helping to save his plane/crew on one particularly difficult mission when the aircraft was in fuel distress and he recognized they still has some fuel available in another tank.

After the war, Frank married his sweetheart, LaVonne Kopren of Sioux Falls, SD, and they moved to Knoxville so he could pursue a college degree on the GI Bill at the University of Tennessee. Upon graduation, he took a position with the US Air Force as an instructor at Keesler Field in Biloxi, MS, during which time he and LaVonne welcomed two daughters, Christine and Marilyn, into the world. Following some years there, an opportunity presented itself with Westinghouse Electric Corporation, Defense Division, and the Whitney family moved to Cheverly, MD, and later Severna Park, MD.

Frank spent 31 years with Westinghouse as an electrical engineer working on their support of NASA ‘s Gemini space program as well as the Air Force’s Pave Spike laser targeting pod and F-16 radar programs. While there he also completed his master’s degree in management from George Washington University. During his tenure with Westinghouse, Frank also completed two long stints overseas, one in Iran while the US was still friendly with the government there and one in Morocco where he served as civil engineer on a contract supporting the Moroccan Air Force.

A devout Christian, Frank was ordained as Deacon and Elder at First Presbyterian Church in Biloxi, MS. He also served as Clerk of Session at Harundale Presbyterian Church in Glen Burnie, MD. He was always active in church choirs and taught Sunday School for many years. After moving to DeFuniak Springs in 2008, Frank and LaVonne attended the First United Methodist Church where Frank sang in the choir. Additionally, he authored a thoughtful religious treatise which one can find in the library of the church.

Frank is survived by his wife of nearly 72 years, LaVonne; daughter Christine Guzowski (husband Paul), daughter Marilyn Whitney, a grandson Daniel Turcotte (wife Nagako) and their two children Shota and Momoka. He was predeceased by his parents and sisters Alethea Whitney and Shirley Whitney Kerr.

A memorial service is planned for April 4, 2017 at 1 p.m. at First United Methodist Church, DeFuniak Springs, FL, Reverend (Dr) Larry Teasley officiating. Inurnment will be in Arlington National Cemetery’s columbarium on a date to be determined.
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