John C. “Jack” Whitney of Deer Park, IL, passed away peacefully on April 29th, 2022 at age 94. He was the husband of Virginia “Ginny” Whitney. They shared 70 years of marriage together.
Mr. Whitney was born in 1927 in Marshfield WI, the only child of Mary Florence (Fleming) and Lloyd Whitney. The family moved to Stevens Point,WI when he was 8 years of age. In Stevens Point, he was a graduate of St. Stephen’s grade school, and P.J. Jacobs H.S., graduating in 1945.
Shortly after graduation, Mr. Whitney entered the US 8th Army, WWII, where he played in a Special Services Army Band, and later was a radio operator in General Eichelberger’s 8th Army Headquarters in Yokohama, Japan.
After returning from military service in 1947, he enrolled at Central State Teachers College now UW Stevens Point and he completed a B.S. Degree in 1950. He received a Masters of Music Degree from VanderCook College in 1954, and later was a Doctoral Candidate at UW Madison.
He married Virginia Gmeiner in 1952 and together they raised four children.
He was the Band Director at Woodruff High School in 1950, then moved to Oconto Falls, WI, where he was the H.S. Band Director and Music Supervisor from 1951 through 1954.
He was the Band Director and Music Supervisor in the Monona Grove Schools from 1954 through 1966. In that year he became an Associate Professor of Music at the University of Wisconsin Campus in Waukesha, where he directed Bands and Jazz Ensembles for many years. He remained in this position until his retirement in 1990. During this period he was active in teaching graduate classes in jazz arranging, and also in the administration of the summer music camps at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Wisconsin Waukesha.
While living in both the Madison and Milwaukee areas, he worked as a professional trombonist and conductor, in studios and orchestras. Mr. Whitney worked with many of the great performers of the period, including Bob Hope, Rosemary Clooney, Doc Severinsen, Pat Boone, and Rich Little.
From 1950 through 1990 he had the occasion to perform in many theatre pit orchestras; the Green Bay Symphony, Madison Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony, Ringling Bros Circus, Holiday on Ice, and the Melody Top Theatre.
Through his career, Mr. Whitney had been active as a composer- arranger of Jazz Ensemble and Concert Band Music. Schmitt Publications, Time-Warner, MMB, INDIANA University Press, DeJohn Music Publications, and E’Toile Publications have published his works. Several of his compositions have been on High School Music Contest lists nationally.
Mr. Whitney has been a member of the Wisconsin Bandmasters Association, Phi Beta Mu, and National Jazz Educators, where he had previously held the position of president.
When he retired in 1990, he and Mrs.Whitney moved to their home on the Chain O’ Lakes in Waupaca and spent their winters in Naples, FL, where he remained active as a trombonist, conductor and arranger for several senior citizen jazz bands in the that area.
By 2003 he remained in Wisconsin on a year round basis, so he could continue playing with several large jazz bands and Dixieland groups in the Stevens Point and Appleton areas. He has continued writing arrangements for bands all over the country.
The lifelong Wisconsin residents left their lake home in 2019 and moved to Illinois to be closer to family.
Survivors include his wife, Ginny; Daughter, Jane (Patrick) Hunt and their children Bob (Eileen), Patrick (Kathleen) and Molly; Son, John Jr. (Cindy) Whitney and their sons, Jack III (Alice) and Tom (Becca); Daughter, Mary (Tom) Paulson and their son Tommy (Halie); Daughter, Anne Callahan and her children Madeline and Spencer (Nell) and 7 great grandchildren: Asha, Isabella, Jordan, Kendall, Griffin, Elizabeth and Thomas.
His parents preceded him in death.
A memorial visitation for Jack will be held from 5pm until the time of service at 7pm on Friday May 6, 2022 at Davenport Family Funeral Home and Crematory, 941 S. Old Rand Rd., Lake Zurich, IL 60047.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Jack’s name may be made to VanderCook College of Music https://www.vandercook.edu/donate-now/
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