Harry Hoeft Whiteley1919 - 2020
Former Rogers City newspaper publisher and civic leader Harry Hoeft Whiteley, 100, passed away November 3, 2020 at his home in Petoskey.
The son of William Harold “Hal” and Leila (Hoeft) Whiteley was born November 8, 1919 in Los Angeles, California.
He married Betty Randall October 13, 1950 at Trinity Episcopal Church in Alpena. Harry looked at every day as a challenge and an adventure. He maintained a humorous, positive attitude even when age robbed him of some of his independence. Harry’s newspaper column routinely ended in “Upward and Onward” and it seems that was his motto for life as well. Harry graduated from Rogers City High School in 1938 and was involved in many activities involving sports and class leadership. He followed in his father’s footsteps working as a newspaper man. His first jobs were at the Midland Daily News and Niles Daily Star. He eventually returned to Rogers City and, partnered with his father Hal until ill health forced his father’s retirement. Harry became owner/publisher of the Presque Isle County Advance and Onaway Outlook and retired in 1984. Harry’s three great loves were his family, community and the out-of-doors. It was Harry’s good fortune to have associated with some prominent figures during his long lifetime. He was a friend to five governors, John Swainson, George Romney, Bill Milliken, Jim Blanchard and John Engler, all of whom gave him appointments to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) and Michigan Travel Commissions. He had lunch with former President John F. Kennedy in 1962. Likewise, with Jerry Ford long before the Grand Rapids native dreamed of someday becoming president. He traveled with former general and President Dwight “Ike” D. Eisenhower on the Eisenhower campaign train in 1952 when Ike was running for president. Harry had never met president H.W. George Bush but Bush appointed him to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, an international body comprised of five members from Canada and four from the United States. It pleased him to be one of the four from the United States. He loved working with the Canadians. Above all of his achievements Harry may have been most proud of a new structure in the MDNR’s Ralph MacMullen Conference Center at Higgins Lake dedicated May 9, 2013 in his honor and named the Harry Whiteley Education Building. This honor was given in recognition of his many years of committed dedication to the MDNR. As Harry stated, “This is the frosting on the cake of my career.” During his long career he received numerous awards and citations for his local and statewide accomplishments, but his heart belonged to his family, his friends and the Rogers City community. Harry was a member of the Westminster Presbyterian Church of Rogers City and belonged to the Rogers City Country Club, Alpena Country Club, Alpena Yacht Club, Presque Isle Yacht Club and Lake Winyah Club. He was port captain for the Great Lakes Cruising Club, served on the boards of the Alpena Community College Foundation and Michigan State Chamber of Commerce. He was a past president of the Michigan Press Association, Michigan Outdoor Writers Association and Doctor’s Hunting Club. Only those closest to Harry realize the full extent of the assistance he has rendered to others. Many in need have benefited from his generosity without knowing the name of their benefactor. He has helped numerous young people obtain jobs and opened the door of opportunity for others. Even though his last years were spent in Petoskey, Harry’s heart still beat to Rogers City time.
Surviving are his wife, Betty, friend and companion for 70 years on October 13, 2020; four children, Jere of Saugatuck, Barbara of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Robert “Randy” of Framingham, Massachusetts and Janis of Rogers City; seven grandchildren; and two great-granddaughters.
He was preceded in death by his sister, Doris Harrington.
A memorial service will take place at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 22nd at Westminster Presbyterian Church with Rev. Dr. Greg and Rev. Karen Zurakowski officiating. Friends may visit with family at the church from 12:30 p.m. through time of service.
Arrangements are in care of the Beck Funeral Home.
The family suggests memorials to Westminster Presbyterian Church of Rogers City, the Presque Isle County Historical Museum, Alpena Community College Foundation or charity of friend’s choice.
Interment will be in the Hoeft- Whiteley Mausoleum, Rogers City.
Memorials may be given in memory of Harry Whiteley to Westminster Presbyterian Church, 125 West Ontario, Rogers City, Michigan 49779 or Presque Isle County Historical Museum, 176 West Michigan Avenue, Rogers City, Michigan 49779.
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