OBIT: Robert Whitney, 88, Veteran, Printer, Devoted Rotary Member

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Robert Whitney, 88, of Watertown, died peacefully in the early morning hours of Monday, April 27 at the VA Hospital in Bedford Mass, resting among family, friends and fellow veterans. He is survived by Sylvia King Whitney, his beloved and loving wife of 64 years, their daughter Jacqueline (Paul ) and granddaughters Christie and Hayley, as well as his brother J. Malcolm Whitney (Edith), and numerous nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews, many of whom remain in the greater Boston area.

Robert and family are well known in Watertown circles, as the Whitney family first arrived in Watertown in 1634. He and Sylvia met at Watertown High and have been together ever since, punctuated by Robert’s enlistment in the US Army Air Corps towards the end of World War II. While Malcolm had already been deployed to the South Pacific,  Robert’s unit  “defended Texas from the Japanese,” as he liked to say. Although he was never deployed overseas, many of his values (and a lot of his great stories and self-deprecating jokes) were forged in that collective effort to preserve and advance the American ideals of liberty, comradeship, selflessness, and personal responsibility. He remained an Army enlistee at heart throughout his life, with his pride for his family and country balanced by his humility for himself.

Robert was grateful for every day of life, particularly those with Sylvia and the rest of his extremely close and loving family. And he loved his community as well: Once he and Sylvia returned to Watertown in 1958, they would never leave but for their cherished summer forays to Nye’s Neck in North Falmouth. The Whitney Candies sign was an icon on Main Street, and Robert has (thankfully!) passed down the coveted fudge recipes to his granddaughters Christie and Hayley and nephew Curtis Whitney. He was well known in the printing business throughout the Boston area, most recently as owner and general manager of Whitney Printing.

As successful as he was in business, his less trumpeted contributions to his community reflect his endless energy to build the fabric of the community and give back even more than that community gave him. Robert remains one of Watertown Rotary’s most faithful members, having made the Tuesday meetings a standing commitment on his calendar and the charitable and educational deeds of the Rotary a special crusade. He served for decades on the town’s licensing board, and was a commissioner of the Boston Arena and a director of the Skating Club of Boston. He has long been recognized as a leading member of the Nye’s Neck community, and his wisdom and council  have been sought after by many who have succeeded him as president.  His sense of history and his sense of humor transcend his passing, and will continue to guide his family, friends and colleagues long after his body is laid to rest, and we thank you for joining with us in person or in spirit to celebrate his life.

The Whitney family will receive visitors at MacDonald, Rockwell & MacDonald, 270 Main Street, Watertown  from 3-7 pm on Sunday May 3. Robert will be interred in the Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne MA on Monday May 4 following a brief service at the funeral home on Monday morning at 11:30 a.m.  In lieu of flowers, the Whitney family asks that you consider a contribution in Robert’s name to the scholarship fund of the Watertown Rotary Club, PO Box 765 Watertown MA, or to The ALS Association, Massachusetts Chapter, 315 Norwood Park South, 1st Floor, Norwood, MA.

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