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John B. “Jack” Whitla, 88, passed away on Sunday, July 24.
John was born Jan. 24, 1928, in Newark, N.J. His family resided in Arlington, N.J. He graduated from Kearny High School and subsequently from Johns Hopkins University with majors in organic chemistry and mathematics.
He initially worked at Merck and Company, originally as an organic research chemist. After publishing innovative research in respected academic journals, he worked for the company in wage and salary administration, specializing in executive compensation issues that led to his lead role in policy mergers. Because he also managed innovative college recruitment, Raytheon Company sought Jack to manage its college recruitment program. Not only did he increase the annual graduate hire rate by 400 percent, he also innovated graduate education partnerships with Harvard, M.I.T. and Northeastern University, among others. Northeastern hired Jack as personnel director and promoted him to assistant to the president to focus on federal and congressional relations. He increased university federal funding from $500,000 to $4 million per year in only three years. This led to Jack’s proudest moments, as he became a public servant in the federal government in 1971. He designed the foundation for VISTA, a domestic version of the Peace Corps. He ultimately became deputy director of management and organization for the Office of Administration and Finance. There he designed and supported many initiatives that addressed pressing social issues. Jack proudly laid the groundwork for what became the Foster Grandparent Program, which recruited senior volunteers to mentor thousands of children in need. He retired in 1995, but turned his time towards further volunteer service with various programs such as Meals on Wheels, the Boys and Girls Club, mentoring and Grove Christian Outreach.
While working in Washington, D.C., Jack met the love of his life, Joan Zaremski, a medical laboratory scientist at the National Zoological Park. They were married Sept. 2, 1978, at Georgetown University and resided in Reston, Va., then Leesburg, Va, ultimately retiring to Williamsburg, Va, in 2000.
Jack was a lifelong Episcopalian and passionately devoted to Jesus Christ. He served on several vestries over the years. As a member of Bruton Parish, he served in several ministries, including pastoral care, the library committee and the homeless shelter. Jack’s other interests included tree farming, gardening, travel, writing and especially studies in theology.
Jack was preceded in death by his parents, John William Whitla and Josephine Agatha Eagleson Whitla; brothers, William Eagleson Whitla and Robert Stearly Whitla; sister, Dorothy Elizabeth Rodda; and son, Bradford Stearly Whitla.
Jack is survived by his beloved wife, Joan; daughter Hollis of Newton, Mass.; sons, Randall (Mary) of Leicester, Mass., and Andrew (Ruth) of Shakopee, Minn.; sister, Ruth Durie; niece, Dorothy (Peter) Bobbe of Burnsville, N.C.; nephews William (Trish) Durie of Hibbing, Minn., and Robert (Nancy) Durie of Princeton, N.J.; grandchildren, Jared, Cole, Nathanael and Ethan; and nine grandnieces and grandnephews; sister-in-law, Helen Zaremski Sobehart (Joe), of Orlando, Fla.; and numerous neighbors and friends.
The family would like to thank Gentiva Hospice and Bayada Home Healthcare for their loving support, especially Marlene, CNA, for her excellent care and for being Jack’s spiritual companion along the way.
A celebration of Jack’s life will be at 1 p.m. Wednesday, August 10, 2016, at Bruton Parish Church, 331 W. Duke of Gloucester St., Williamsburg, Va., with a reception to follow at the parish hall.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Bruton Parish Church or to Alzheimer’s Association National, 213 McLaws Circle, Williamsburg, VA 23185.
Online condolences may be offered at .www.nelsencares.com.