Final arrangements make statement about life
by Marguerite Cline
September 13, 2013 12:05 AM | 1596 views | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Canton’s Calista Gondry arranged for her dad’s last motorcycle ride.

Bill Whittekin’s ashes were in the saddlebag of a member of the Patriot Guard’s bike when they were taken to Canton’s Georgia National Cemetery.

“He would have gotten a kick out of that,” she said.

A few years ago, while her mother, Marjorie Whittekin, and Calista’s brother, Bill, were visiting in Canton, Calista took them to see the cemetery.

Ms. Whittekin decided that was where she wanted her and her deceased husband’s ashes to be interred.

Mr. Whittekin had jokingly said he was going to rewrite his will to say he wanted to be buried “seated astride his cycle, facing east and in high gear.” Plus, he wanted his right hand on the throttle and his left on the horn.

After her mother’s death, Calista arranged for both of their ashes to be brought to Canton.

Bill Whittekin loved motorcycles. He may have been the only television repairman ever to ride a motorcycle when he went on house calls.

The owner of Broadmoor TV Sales and Service in Shreveport, La., he was well known around the town. But riding his motorcycle when he was on house calls was just one of the reasons most everyone knew him.

He also had a van he used when he needed to carry more things than he could carry on his bike. It got lots of attention, too. On the van was painted, “Stupid but Honest.”

After serving in the Army, he worked for decades for the postal service. First, he had a walking route. That was how he and the dogs in Shreveport got acquainted with one another.

An animal lover, he carried bones for the dogs as well as mail for the people on the route. The dogs must have missed him after he was given a rural route.

Mr. Whittekin was a hard worker and provided well for his family. His wife was a stay-at-home mom when the children were young. She was busy cooking, sewing and taxiing the three children to church, piano lessons, Scouts, etc.

Before they were married, he courted Marjorie daily since her family lived on his walking mail route. A pretty girl who looked like Rita Hayworth, she was probably watching every day for the mailman to arrive.

He was a talented writer. For decades, he regularly wrote letters to the editor to several local newspapers. They were always published. Describing himself as “just to the right of Barry Goldwater,” he said, “Whenever something stirs me up as odd or controversial, I hit the typewriter. Most of the time when I write I’m mad about something and I just have to get it off my chest.”

When he learned that the governor of Texas had appointed/reappointed people who had died to state positions, that called for a letter.

Mr. Whittekin applauded the governor’s logic saying he had discovered a source of reliable state employees. They would not get involved in sex scandals or pot smoking. Best of all, they would not get a government pension.

Just as he liked writing for newspapers, he liked reading them. He read three newspapers each day — The Shreveport Times at breakfast, USA Today at lunch and The Shreveport Journal at dinner.

In one of his letters to the editor, he wrote of the added benefit of reading newspapers.

“ I vanish all my troubles with this simple routine. … I turn at once to the obituaries to see if there is anyone there deader than me. There usually is.”

“Then quickly to the ‘Suits Filed’ to see if there are those with more depressing financial problems. No contest.”

“Finally, as a sort of dessert, to ‘Dear Abbie’ to compare my personal problems and sex life with the other uncoordinated. Bingo!”

Usually Marjorie Whittekin had a good sense of humor, but she was not happy after her husband published a mock obituary for her.

In it, he said she died from years of meanness, gave lip service to her church, gave all of her hard-working husband’s money to the Humane Society and would be buried in the backyard if there was room for her among the many dogs buried there.

On the day after his death, Ms. Whittekin went to the newspaper. She carried a pre-need obituary Bill Whittekin had written for himself.

He concluded by writing “I leave you with this request from a friend who said, ‘Don’t cry for me — just remember something witty I said and smile.’”

While I did not know Bill Whittekin, I have been smiling while writing this column.

Marguerite Cline is the former mayor of Waleska.
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