WHITING, JAMES
 
 

WHITING, James Hudson, departed this life November 12, 2015, after making the world a better place. He was 86. His last residence was Westminster Canterbury, Richmond, Virginia. The seventh of eight children of Helen Hudson Whiting and Edgar Mason Whiting, Jim is survived by his wife, Barbara Thalhimer; and three daughters, Julia Whiting (John), Welby Whiting Fairlie (Duncan) and Sarah Whiting. He was also the stepfather of Stanton Thalhimer (Liz) and Barbara Thalhimer Wiltshire (Rex). Jim was the last surviving child of the eight siblings: Meta, Carlyle, Henry, Edgar, Richard, Willy, Jim and Beverley. Jim was a generous soul, a consummate volunteer, a great dad and the hardest worker we have ever seen. He had a great sense of humor and an innate ability to get along with anyone. He had a love of old buildings, boxwood, painting and playing the piano. He will be greatly missed. He was born at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C., on June 14, 1929. An Army brat, the family spent his early years in Ft. Riley, Kan., and later moved to Winchester, Va., where he attended Handley High School, graduating in 1948. His father, Ret. Lt. Col. Edgar Mason Whiting, died when Jimmy was 9 and he and his seven siblings were raised by their mother, Helen Hudson Whiting. Helen instilled in her children fierce independence, which they jokingly called "benign neglect." Jim's passion for boxwood was inherited from his mother. He often rescued boxwood and had a section in his garden called the "hospital," where he nursed his "hospital box" back to health. His mother's ability to raise eight children without a father during the Depression instilled in him a frugality that rivaled none. This gift was passed on to his daughters, who fondly recall his maxim of "waste not, want not." This philosophy was revealed to be a wisdom that we couldn't understand as children, but are grateful for as adults. Jim, along with his older brothers, earned extra money by washing cars. When he was 13, he began spending his summers in Hardwick, Mass., to perform odd jobs for Miss Annie Louise Ruggles, an elderly relative of Gen. George S. Patton. Miss Ruggles taught him to paint, which started a lifelong love for art and painting. The last week of each summer was spent with Mrs. Patton at Green Meadows, General and Mrs. Patton's permanent home near Hamilton, Mass. Jim described it as an exciting time since it was during WWII and Mrs. Patton described General Patton's campaigns as they developed. He attended the University of Virginia and in 1952 received a B.A. in art, becoming the first UVA graduate to receive an art degree. While at the university he was president of the Chi Phi Fraternity. He was the first recipient of the Pine Tree Scholarship award from the Foundation of that name, which Mrs. Patton and General Patton established for college students. He was one of many relatives to attend UVA. He always stressed the innate value of education. Jim enlisted in the Army two days before he would have been drafted and was sent to Korea. The war had ended when he arrived, however, he remained working in the 45th Infantry Headquarters at Chun Chon. Returning from Korea, Jim managed his brother's foreign and used car business, known as Whiting Motors, in Winchester and in 1955, returned to the University of Virginia, where he received a B.S. in commerce. He was recruited to work for Burlington Industries of North Carolina. While being trained by Burlington in New York City, he met his first wife, Luisa Kreis, a daughter of sculptor Henry Kreis, who emigrated from Germany. He worked for Burlington Hosiery's from 1959 to 1975. He was transferred to Seattle, Chicago, Richmond and New York City. A gifted salesman, he held the position of assistant national sales manager of the hosiery division, when the division closed in 1975 during the recession and he lost his job. Jim developed a talent at fixing up houses while being transferred across the country for his job with Burlington. The art of home improvement combined his penny-wise nature and his love of old buildings. In 1975, Jim moved his family back to Richmond and started work for Anderson and Strudwick as a business broker. When he retired in 1990, he was the executive vice president. He married his second wife, Barbara Thalhimer, in 1988. After retirement, he devoted much of his time to volunteering with Historic Richmond Foundation, a nonprofit organization devoted to preserving Richmond's unique historic character. He began volunteering at HRF in 1975 and served in numerous positions on the board of trustees and committees. While volunteering with HRF, he worked for over 10 years to stabilize and preserve The National Theatre, 1927. He jokingly referred to himself as the janitor of The National, taking on the dirtiest of jobs with great aplomb. He also volunteered his labor and talents at Monumental Church, 1814, an historic property owned by HRF. Nothing made him happier than working on an old building and making it better. He served on the boards of Maymont, Friends of the Public Library and the Arts Council of Richmond. He was a founding member and served as chair of the Capital Preservation Committee, and was the chair of the furnishings committee of the Citizens Advisory Council to the Governor's Mansion. He taught painting at J. Sergeant Reynolds Community College. Jim is survived by his three daughters; and five grandchildren, Joseph, Molly, William, Hannah and James; also stepchildren, Stanton and Barbara; stepgrandchildren, Claire, Will and Lee; as well as Luisa Kreis Whiting and Barbara Thalhimer. In accordance with his wishes, Jim's body was donated to science- the ultimate volunteer to the end. A memorial service will be held at Westminster Canterbury, December 5, at 11 a.m. A private family service will be held at the family plot at Ivy Hill Cemetery in Arlington, Va. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Historic Richmond Foundation, 4 E. Main St., Suite 1-C, Richmond, Va. 23219 or St. John's Church Foundation, 2319 E. Broad St., Richmond, Va. 23223.