Obituaries » Rita Jean Whitney

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Rita Jean Whitney

May 10, 1929 - March 31, 2024

Rita Whitney

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Our beloved mother, Rita Jean Whitney, of Decatur, IL passed away peacefully on March 31, 2024, at home. Rita was born May 10th, 1929 in DeKalb IL to Charlotte (nee Nachtigall) and Walter Eric Carlson. She was baptized, confirmed, and married in the First Lutheran Church, Dekalb IL. She attended DeKalb schools and graduated from DeKalb Township High School in 1946. She worked as a key punch operator at the DeKalb Ag, Ideal Industries in Sycamore IL, and at Wurlitzers until she married Carlton Richard Whitney, the love of her life, on 8/19/1951. They moved to Algonquin, IL where she worked at the Algonquin Pharmacy and at Cecil Barrett Appliance store until she and Carlton started their family. After the birth of their first daughter, Rita became a stay at home mom. She and Carlton then welcomed three more daughters to complete their family. In her younger years Rita was active in her daughter’s activities. She was a member of the PTA, a room mother many times, Girl Scout co leader, Day Camp leader, and a committee member for the Sybaquay Girl Scout Council. She was an Election Judge for over 30 years. She was a 25 year member of the Algonquin Federated Women’s Club, Algonquin Garden Club, and the Algonquin Mother’s Club. She was active in the District 300 Faculty Wives Club and for a few years was in the American Legion 670 Auxiliary. Rita was a Heritage Member of the Congregational Church of Algonquin, joining in 1956. Over the years, she volunteered as a Sunday School Teacher, Deaconess, Memorial Committee member, Congregators Member, and Financial Secretary. She served as Church Secretary for 7 years. She was a Heavenly Attic Angel for many years.

Rita and her husband owned and operated “Whitney’s Workshop”, an antique and gift shop for 6 years in the 1980’s. She belonged to the Polly Crandell Questers in Crystal Lake, an International organization devoted to the preservation and restoration of antiques and historical sites. Rita’s many interests included furniture stripping and refinishing, collecting and repairing antique quilts, making many dried and silk flower arrangements, and making many other crafts. She loved garage sales and flea markets, both as a customer and as a vendor. She followed the Chicago Cubs while her husband rooted for the Chicago White Sox. She also followed the Chicago Bears.

She and Carlton loved to travel, especially with their children and later with their grandchildren. Some of her favorite times were family gatherings in Maine, Colorado, Orange Beach Alabama,, Utah, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Washington State, and Hawaii. Her favorite time of the year were the Christmas Holidays when the family gathered.

In 2012 she left Algonquin and moved to Decatur IL to be near her daughter. She is survived by her daughters, Mary (Dr Randal ) Beck of Decatur, IL, Carol Whitney of Winston Salem, NC, Julia (Robert Michael) Kewley of Oklahoma City, OK; her grandchildren Rachel (Michael) Ogden of Spanaway, WA, Emily Beck of Springfield, IL, Jeffrey (Catherine) Beck of Salt Lake City, UT, and Michaela (Reid) Council of Yukon, OK. Also her great grandchildren, Daniel and Abigail Ogden of Spanaway, WA. Other survivors include her sister in law Mary Carlson of Pecatonica IL, brother in law John Damon Whitney of Sandwich IL, sister in law Alice Whitney of Sycamore, IL, and her former sister in law Patricia G. Carlson of DeKalb, IL. Additional survivors include 18 nieces and nephews.

She was predeceased by her parents, her husband Carlton Whitney, her daughter Diane Whitney, brothers William Carlson, Charles Carlson, and Richard Carlson, sister in law Patricia S. Carlson, brothers in law, Thurston Whitney, Don Whitney, Robert Whitney and sisters in law Esther Whitney, Phyllis Whitney, and niece Kathy Ney.

The family would like to thank Dr William Franklin and his staff, the staff at Cancer Care of Decatur and especially, Dr Sebastien Kairouz, and Memorial Medical Hospice nurses, especially Brad, for their kind and compassionate care.

In lieu of flowers, the family is grateful for memorials in honor of Rita Whitney to the Congregational Church of Algonquin, 109 Washington St., Algonquin Il 60102 or to the Algonquin Area Public Library, 2600 Harnish Dr.,Algonquin, Il 60102. Consider designating your library donation to the Carlton Whitney Parent/Teacher Collection or Children’s Accessibility Kits. Please add Rita’s name in the note field of any checks.

There will be a memorial service on Saturday, June 8, 2024 at the Congregational Church of Algonquin with visitation at 11 AM and service at Noon.

Central Cremation Center in Forsyth, Illinois has been entrusted with arrangements.