Funeral Service in-person and livestreamed at James Bay United Church, Victoria, British Columbia: Saturday, October 1, 2022 at 1:30pm Pacific time, with music starting at 1:20.
For livestream, go to:
Peacefully in the early morning of September 21, 2022, Herbert Allen Whitney passed away at home in Victoria, BC.
Herb was born on April 18, 1929 in Grand Rapids, Michigan to Marguerite Brummeler Whitney and Herbert C. Whitney and was the brother of Margaret (Marge) Hansen.
He was educated at DePauw University and the University of Michigan, where he received his PhD.
As a young man, he went to work in Tokyo, Japan for 3 years, with another 2 years added when he was drafted during the Korean War. He became reasonably fluent in Japanese and maintained a love and connection to Japan for the rest of his life that he shared with his family.
In 1957 he married Barbara Ann Cochran, who had been Marge’s college roommate and close friend. His marriage to Barb of 65 years was a model of kindness, fun, partnership and love that inspires their family.
Following their 3-month honeymoon in Japan (where Barb’s parents had to wire them additional money), they settled in Ann Arbor, Michigan and Herb completed his PhD. After several years at Penn State University, in 1965 they moved with their 3 children to Waterloo, Ontario where Herb joined the faculty of Wilfrid Laurier University (Waterloo Lutheran University at the time) and taught geography for the next 30 years. His interests focused on cultural geography and how people interact with their landscape. He loved engaging with students, particularly on field trips to various places in Canada, and he made a particular point to show hospitality to international students.
Following his retirement, he volunteered for many years supporting people in the hospice program at Freeport Hospital, enjoying the people he met and finding their journeys meaningful. He also sought to protect heritage buildings as an active member of the local branch of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario.
Herb was an active member of the United Church of Canada. He read and reflected deeply on issues of faith and social justice, valuing community wherever he lived.
Herb and Barb had three children: Herbert Whitney Jr. (Marie), Carolyn Whitney-Brown (Geoffrey) and David Carter-Whitney (Maureen). He and Barb raised their family valuing faith, inquiry, love and humour. In 1973-74 they spent an amazing year living in Kobe, Japan, which shaped the family with a love of adventure and remains a cherished time. Summers were spent visiting Barb’s parents and family on Cape Cod and with Herb’s mother and Marge’s family at Port Sheldon, Michigan at the family cottage. The extended family remained important to him throughout his life.
He continued to travel through professional opportunities and with Barb, visiting China in 1977 shortly after it opened to western visitors, as well as going to Korea, Hong Kong, again to Japan as well as Germany, the Netherlands, Britain and France.
Herb and Barb moved to Victoria, B.C. in their mid-80s, eventually moving into the Camelot, a seniors’ residence where he was known for making sure he knew everyone’s name and for sharing a joke at each meal.
He always loved gardening, shaping the yard in Waterloo with large, beautiful designs including a stone lantern he had brought back from Japan at the end of his military service. He continued to create lovely gardens on their balcony in Victoria, right through his final days.
A “foodie” before his time, he was always on the hunt for new and obscure items and particularly sought out sticky toffee pudding and salt-rising bread.
He took photographs throughout his life (sometimes to his family’s consternation as they waited, and waited), and leaves a legacy documenting beautiful places and a family that grew over the years, had fun, and apparently ate many, many meals together.
He particularly liked writing haiku poetry to concisely reflect on the beauty of nature as well as the joy and challenges of life, self-publishing two books in his final years.
His love and playfulness, including the fish face and his removable thumb trick, will be missed by his grandchildren: Janet Burlacu (Vicentiu), Monica Whitney-Brown (Jordan), David Whitney-Brown (Victoria), Ben Carter-Whitney (Alison), Liam Carter-Whitney (Ida), Bridget Carter-Whitney (Sandy), Chris Coltman-Whitney, Alex Coltman-Whitney and great-granddaughter Zélie Burlacu, as well as nieces and nephews and their families that he treasured and loved.
The voices of Indigenous survivors of Canada’s residential school system made a significant impact on Herb and he sought to better understand how to support reconciliation and healing.
Donations in his memory may be made to James Bay United Church (www.jamesbayunited.com) or to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society (www.irsss.ca).
Condolences may be offered to the family below.
Carol Buchan, Chapter AI
Dear Barb, Herb Jr., Carrie, and Dave:
My deepest condolences for the loss of Herb, a most wonderful husband, dad and friend. I remember some very happy times of driving home from church and lunch at the Witney’s in Waterloo and Dave, in Jasper Alberta(Dave don’t worry, I’ll say no more).
I’m still living in Waterloo in a townhouse near Conestoga Mall. The most exciting news is for the last 22 years God gave me a family of 2 kids, 2 grand kids and 3 great-grand kids, soon to be 4.
Incidentally, I am writing this while listening to a live-stream from First United Church, Waterloo with their new supply minister. Fred Momtieth.
May the peace and comfort of Christ be with you,
I met Herb through the North Waterloo Region branch of Architectural Conservancy Ontario, and it was through another branch member, Brian Dietrich, that I learned of his passing. How appropriate, as we expand our understanding of “heritage” that the Whitney family has dedicated donations in Herb’s memory to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society. May we carry on his efforts to continue learning about our heritage and to support truth, reconciliation and healing.
Sincere sympathy to Herb’s family and friends,
Kae Elgie, Waterloo
Dear Carrie, Sending you my heartfelt condolences. May your Dad rest in peace! I
I feel like the lineup is moving fast, so you have a good life while you can . Rudy
Dear Barb, I’m so very sorry for your loss of Herb, your soulmate and life’s partner. What a blessing his life was to you. I enjoyed the stories shared by your family at today’s celebration of his life. The music, so carefully chosen and loved by Herb and you was absolutely beautiful. Though I couldn’t be with you in person, I sang with a lusty voice nonetheless. I will save his poem “Perspectives” as a reminder for myself of the God who creates and lives within us and all things. I shall keep you close in my heart in days to come, trying to support you, and praying for brighter days to return to you. With lots of love, Christine Eschman (Chapter AI)
Barb, I was stunned, and saddened to hear of Herb’s passing. We met when you were new to Victoria, and so I knew Herb through you and perhaps at an event. I knew you had wonderful years together ; so well matched, and loving. A keen interest in people, places and ways of contributing to the world ran through your lives together..
When you had just moved to Victoria in 1984 we met in a rather different way. But it speaks to your and Herb’s, and your children’s interest in your community. I was just backing out of the driveway, and we live close to U of Victoria. I heard a tap on my window pane. It was your daughter who had just noticed I had a PEO sign on my license plate. “ My Mom is a PEO and they just moved here”. I got Barb and Herb’s number, called, and we became friends forever.
Barb, what a wonderful partner you had in Herb. And what a splendid, fun loving, gentle father. Bless you and your family through these grieving days.
Glenn and Daphne
Glenn and I did not have the pleasure of meeting Herb but we know he raised such a strong, intelligent and caring daughter in Carrie. She and Geoff, in turn, have raised a beautiful caring family. Herb gave the gift that keeps on giving for generations. The obituary was full of pleasant surprises of a life well lived. He is still with us in the nicest way through his stellar kids and grandkids. He did it right
Herb and Barb welcomed me into the warmth of their home in Waterloo with open and loving arms. Herb worked tirelessly to support and encourage campus ministry at Wilfrid Laurier University for many years. His passion for all-things-good and beautiful will be long remembered. Thank you Barb and Herb! My love to all of your family through this difficult loss.
Carol Ann and Russell Muncaster
Barbara our thoughts are with you, weI sent you our sympathy. We remember all the good times in Waterloo and at WLU
What a lovely, colourful tribute to your Dad, Carrie. He really comes alive in this description. You have so many of his creative, curious, fun-loving qualities. His spirit lives on in you. Thanks for letting me know and for sharing this obituary. I keep you, your Mom and your whole family in my prayers.
To Herbert and Caroline, I send my condolences and best wishes.
Carrie and Geoff
My thoughts and prayers are with you. It sounds like your dad lived life to the fullest. What great memories!
My deepest condolences for the loss of your father. A good parent is with us for decades and when he is gone, it is a void that is never filled again in the same way. May you be uplifted by memories of his consistency to share his joy of expanding the world for others, and his love for it and community. I didn’t know how far back his interest in Asia was. I only remember as a teen when you were thrilled to spend over a year in Japan.
Dear Carrie and Geoff – I send my deepest condolences to you on the loss of you Dad and father-in-law. What an extraordinary life of curiosity and adventure, love and responsibility. A life well-lived!
“And when great souls die, after a period peace blooms, slowly and always irregularly. Spaces fill with a kind of soothing electric vibration. Our senses, restored, never to be the same, whisper to us. They existed. They existed. We can be. Be and be better. For they existed. “Maya Angelou in her poem When Great Trees Fall
Peace and love,
Herb and his lovely wife, Barb, were amongst Joyce’s and my very best friends for many years. We met at Penn State, and maintained a warm and strong friendship ever since. One of my fondest memories of Herb is how much he appreciated all aspects of life. When we visited them he never failed to tell Barb how much he appreciated the meals. They raised three fine children and I want to extend any condolences to Barb, the children and their families. I truly feel that I was blessed to know the “Whitney” family.
David and family, so sorry to hear about your Father’s passing. Based on the above, he had an amazingly productive and interesting life surrounding by those who loved him. The obituary is a beautiful tribute and makes us sad that we did not have the pleasure of meeting and trading stories with him. Please accept our condolences. Josh, Alia, Ben, Hannah, Marie and your Deloitte colleagues.
Carrie, it sounds like your father had a great life, and a great family. In this time of sorrow, I hope you are able to smile at the joyful memories.
So sorry to hear of your Dad’s passing. My condolences Carrie to you and all of your family. Jean Crowder
Alison and Tim
Dear Carrie and Geoff. Our condolences to you and your family. What an interesting life he had. You will have many good memories. Alison and Tim.
Rob and Lisa Irish
So sorry to hear this news. Herb was a generous man with an easy, tip-his-head-back laugh. May you all feel grace and peace in this time of grieving.
Ceal & Ged McLean
We are so sorry for your loss yet thankful for the loving closeness Herb enjoyed with his family, his many interests that made the world more beautiful and better, and the goodness he revealed in everyone he met. He will be missed but will live on in the hearts of all who knew and loved him.
Sr. Sue Mosteller, CSJ
Carrie and Geoff, What a precious and wonderful life and example! So alive and so motivated to learn and expand and grow! I’m moved by the wide interests and the engagements in so many and different countries and peoples. No wonder you, yourselves are so bright and engaging and able to meet and find goodness in EVERY person. Your years with people with disabilities in L’Arche confirm this to a T. I send my love, hopefully to touch your sorrowing hearts. Blessings.
Our sincere sympathies for your loss. Prayers and Blessings to the Whitney family from the James Bay United Church Board.
My thoughts are with you and your family as you process the wonderful life you enjoyed with Herb. Spend this time remembering all that you two enjoyed. Life passes us by very quickly and I know
that you will always remember the great times you two enjoyed. We will all miss Herb.