Alma "Jerry" Whitman, age 84, passed away February 16, 2009. Jerry was born in Kansas and moved to Middleburg, Florida when she was one year old. Her father, the late A.D. Crist, helped found the Church of the Brethren in Rideout, a small community east of Middleburg on Black Creek. They lived on a twenty acre farm, Slim Whitman, her husband of 67 years was born in Tampa and he and Jerry met at thirteen when her family moved to Tampa. They dated for three years when much to the dismay of Jerry's preacher father in 1941 she eloped with that tall slim fella that worked in a meat packing plant and was a member of his church. Jerry says, "we fibbed about our age." It must have been the right chemistry, "The secret is that the relationship is 50-50. You can't go 51-49- that sort of thing. You have to respect the other person." They married in 1941, Slim joined the Navy in 1943. They had a daughter then. The whole time he was in the Navy money was sent to her. She saved that money and bought their first house, and you have to appreciate that. She was saving money and thinking of their future while he was away from home fighting. Then there was the time when he had the chance to go on radio. Because he had a stutter back then he was more comfortable singing rather than talking so Jerry was his announcer! But later on she said it was time for him to do the talking too. So when he first started he had a script, but one day he left the script in the dressing room and he had to say something! So he overcame that simply by being himself and being friendly. But she's always been the woman behind the man. "We never make decisions without consulting with each other. It's always, we and not I." Survivors include her husband, Slim, daughter: Sharron Beagle (Roy), son: Byron Whitman, 2 grandchildren: Dewey Beagle and Twila East and 2 great-grandchildren: Amber and Garrett Beagle. The family will receive friends Friday from 6 to 8 pm at the Church of the Brethren, Hwy 220 and 209 Middleburg, Florida. Funeral service will be held Saturday at 2:00 pm at the church with Rev. Jerry Hartwell officiating. Interment will be in Middleburg United Methodist Church Cemetery. HardageGiddens Rivermead Funeral Home, 127 Blanding Blvd. Orange Park, in charge of arrangements.
Florida Times Union, Feb 19 2009
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