Obituaries » Arthur Rexford Whittaker
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August 16, 1937 - May 26, 2021
Funeral Home Russon Mortuary Farmington
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Arthur Rexford Whittaker passed peacefully away in Kaysville Utah, surrounded by family, on Wednesday May 26th, 2021, after a sudden illness. Arthur was born 1937, to Earl Rexford Whittaker and Elva Lauree Dalton Whittaker, in Circleville Utah.
He is survived by his wife Joyce Sessions Whittaker, Brother Marell Topham, (Nita), Sandy UT, Children Renee Whittaker Kraczek (Johnny), Farmington UT, Lauree Whittaker Sundhal (Dan), Stevensville Montana, Chris Whittaker (Tayna), Salt Lake City Utah, Heidi Jones (Jay), Kaysville UT, Kim Cormier (Tommy), West Point UT, Sonja Lymn (Craig), Mapelton UT, Twenty-One Grandchildren, Thirty One Great Grand Children and 5 Great Great Grand Children.
As a youngster growing up in Circleville Utah, as the son of prominent Ranchers & Farmers, Rexford and Elva Whittaker, Arthur had the experience of driving cattle as a small cowboy and later a teen between winter and summer ranges, sleeping under the stars for several weeks at a time a couple of times each year and all the adventures that go with traveling on horseback in the wilds of central Utah. As he got older, he had the honor of running the projector for the Circleville Theater, and as a young teen he launched his first business, an airplane model shop located in the basement of the ranch house where he ordered and sold model airplanes to friends. As a teenager he also learned to fly full size aircraft and did his first solo flight at 16 years old. He had to wait two years before they would award him his pilots license, being one of the youngest student pilots to have completed ground study and flight study before 18.
Upon completing a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the Eastern States Mission, his Mom asked if he saw any girls on his mission because he could not marry any girls from his small hometown as he was related to most all of them. He began writing to a beautiful young woman in Connecticut, named Noel Magoon. He invited her out to Utah and when she arrived, they went to Bryce canyon and he proposed and then she said yes. She thought she would be a rancher’s wife but not long after their marriage he was at the town café where he was informed by a member of the local draft committee there in Circleville that his number was up and he would be shortly receiving a draft to serve in the Army. That day, having always loved aircraft his entire life, he went and enlisted in the US Air Force.
As an air force cadet, he was informed that due to his nearsightedness he would not be considered as a pilot which was disappointing as he had been flying most of his teenage life. Because of a LDS chaplain’s suggestion and a kind ophthalmologist however, he found he could to go to air force officer’s training school and he became an aeronautical engineer. Arthur retired as a major. First off in his career he was in the space race of the early 60’s, working on some early space stations. He also had the opportunity of being part of several early satellite launch projects, traveling as the air force representative to see them launched from Cape Canaveral. During other parts of his air force career, he was closely engaged with the teams that developed the A10 Warthog, as well as several other experimental and production aircraft including some work on the F16 and the A37 Dragonfly.
While Arthur was in Aeronautical Engineering School at Utah State University, Noel complete her nursing degree. Arthur and Noel raised 3 children, Renee Whittaker Kraczek, Lauree Whittaker Sundahl, and Chris Whittaker.
Arthur and Noel were both very interested in flying and Noel completed her pilot training and flew her solo flight shortly after Renee was born. Arthur owned several aircraft, belonged to pilots and plane builders’ clubs like the EAA and organizations wherever they lived. He built a couple of aircraft from stick through completion and a gyrocopter. He was also a certified aircraft engine mechanic.
Stationed in California Arthur renewed his entrepreneurial spirit and began Art Air Aviation. He realized that wile building his airplanes in the Garage, he had trouble getting parts and thought many other experimental aircraft builders might have the same problem, so his company serviced aircraft home builders via catalogue sales. Renee remembers that often as a family they would collate the catalogues that her mom had created around the kitchen table.
While the family was stationed at Eglin air force base in Florida, Arthur had the opportunity of serving in the stake presidency, serving the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints congregations in northern Florida. This was one of the more challenging times of his life due to extreme time constraints posed by Church and Military service as well as having a young family. While there in Florida, Noel met missionaries who were serving there, young men who had graduated from Davis High School, and she suggested that for Arthurs last military assignment before retirement that he should seek a post at Hill Airforce base so that his daughters and son could attend Davis High School in Kaysville Utah. As it turned out his bid to move to Hill was successful and the family moved to Kaysville, where the kids did attend school at Davis, and where Renee met Johnny Kraczek, and were later married.
Arthur started a company called Circle Industries. In Arthurs original concept, he planned to move the fabrication and manufacturing company back down to Circleville Utah, his hometown, after his children graduated from Davis. But as Arthur came to appreciate Kaysville more and more, Circle Industries grew in a building that he was part owner of in Kaysville. Using his experience from military aircraft manufacturing plants and his knowledge of government procurement practices, the company began to build commercial and industrial products such as man doors for coal mines, winches for military use, and many other steel fabrication projects. His company built many ornamental metal railings. He began manufacturing CNC mills for making vinyl fence when he discovered and realized that vinyl could be used as porch railing and developed internal metal brackets and hardware to put it to that service. Circle began to manufacture vinyl railing systems which eventually became a national building trend.
Arthur commissioned his son in law, an engineering student, to design a new faster computer-controlled machine to manufacture vinyl fence and railings. This machine was 14x faster then it’s predecessor and the machine began to sell internationally and for a time was the go to machine for vinyl manufacturers and large vinyl fab shops in the US and Canada. These machines were manufactured in Kaysville at the Circle Industries shop.
Several years before, despite being very busy, Arthur wrote his daughter Renee every single week she was serving her mission in Hong Kong, and did the same for Lauree who served her mission in Japan and Okinawa Japan. One of the things he enjoyed doing was adapting poems to share messages that were more personal or relevant.
Arthur and Noel were divorced after several years of difficult relationship struggles, after their oldest, Renee, was married, and around the time that Lauree was preparing for her mission to Japan. After a couple of lonely years for Arthur, he worked up the courage to ask Helen Kay Mecham Peterson, a teller at first security bank where he banked, to go on a date. Helen who had recently divorced as well, was a little skeptical but prayed for a sign that it was okay to date Aurthur. When they went to the temple together, she got a very clear sign and impression that the relationship could work out.
Helen brought eight adult children to the marriage and Arthur and Helen hosted many great holiday parties at their house which they built onto several times to accommodate these extra people. Several of Helen’s adult children wanted to be sealed to Arthur and Helen in the temple and Arthur treats them as his own to this day. The girls Renee, Heidi, Sonja, Kim, and Lauree are particularly close and have grown even more so over the years.
When Arthur announced that he wanted to sell Circle Industries so that he and Helen could go on a mission, his son in law, Johnny Kraczek, and his daughter Lauree, a graduate with an MBA in business, who had both worked at or with Circle Industries, suggested that they wanted to buy it. They were already acting as managers and took out an SBA loan, purchasing the company which they ran for the next 10 years growing it to a million a year revenue. Because the SBA loan was a woman owned pilot program loan, and one of the first paid off in the state of Utah, both Lauree and Johnny were asked to testify for the SBA with Congressman Hansen, Senator Bennett and Senator Hatch, who were trying to determine the future of the SBA at the time.
Arthur and Helen served their mission in London England, in the genealogy department at the Hyde park chapel. Arthur was particularly pleased with his ability to develop a data base for the records at the Hyde park chapel library, speeding up the patron’s ability to find their ancestors in the microfilm records. This work was a similar concept to what eventually became indexing and family search, which of course had not been created at that time.
Upon returning from their mission, they found that more and more grandchildren were attending their family gatherings. Arthur served on the Circle Industries board and began assembling a first-class home woodworking shop with Helen’s encouragement. He has since that time created literally hundreds of beautiful hand-turned wooden and stone items, from bowls, to Christmas ornaments to intricate candle sticks. Many of these were given away as presents to family and friends and for many, these are prized possessions. He continued to enjoy building radio-controlled aircraft and for a time worked on a full-size airplane in his garage, an amphibian called a “Coot”.
Over the years Arthur served more than 13 missions for the church, most in genealogy, indexing, or serving as a customer service missionary helping geologist use the churches genealogy software. He had throughout his life a deep and abiding love of genealogy and family history.
Arthur loved politics and political discussion, and particularly loved discussion with neighbors, friends and family. He was active in his parties caucus and grass roots movements. He was interested in community politics and at one point ran for Kaysville City Mayor.
Helen had several difficult health challenges in her later life including needing a kidney transplant, a bout with cancer, and finally a fatal run in with pancreatic cancer. Between and during those health challenges, Helen nurtured all her children and grandchildren including Arthur’s and was truly a great blessing in Arthur and his children and grandchildren’s lives.
Helen’s passing was very difficult for the family, and particularly for Arthur. He became terribly lonely. He got a dog named Charlie to help, but found Charlie was more aggravating then therapeutic. He continued to do wood working but it was not quite the same.
Eventually Arthur met Joyce Sessions at the Kaysville senior center where they both attended periodically for lunch and events. After a few months they started dating and Joyce and Arthur were married. They were both very committed to their previous marriage partners who had passed, but they both very much enjoyed having each other’s company. They were married and have lived together for the last 7 years. Joyce is an extremely easy going and loving person, who won the hearts both Helen and Arthurs children and grandchildren, who affectionately call her grandma Joyce. Arthur says of Joyce that “she taught me how to actually love people.” He was excited to show Helen what he had learned about putting others first in his last leg of life journey.
For many years Arthur invited his daughters and grandkids to come to his shop on Fridays where he taught them how to carve, do woodworking projects, leather projects and even some paint by number projects. He always served them a treat he called “Gorp”, a mix of cereal, chocolate, nuts and other stuff. He was committed to being with his kids and grandkids at those times. Grandson Gavin Sundhal won a first price for a carving he did at Grandpa Arthurs in the Davis County Fair.
Later, while granddaughter Chandrelyn Rosalie was on her mission, he built a kit harp for her and presented it to her on her return.
In his advanced years, Arthur’s spine became more and more warped with scoliosis which began to bend him over so that he walked very stooped. But walk he did, daily. He would find neighborhood walking partners and together they would make the loops and visit and talk about ideas, inventions, and gospel topics. As his back twisted, he was in more and more pain, but when asked how he was doing he would always cheerfully say, “I am doing great for the shape I am in!” He had a great deal of resilience and confidence that things “will work out.” Daughter Renee says “It was inspirational to see his courage and fortitude and his commitment to get in his 4000 steps each day.”
On Friday, May 21st, grandson John Arthur Kraczek finished assembling a full-scale flight simulator complete with yoke and peddles that Arthur had purchased parts for, and showed Arthur how to fly it. One of Arthur’s dreams was to buy another airplane and house it at the Morgan airport. Using the flight simulator and his favorite airplane, Arthur happily took off from the Ogden Hinkley airport and flew to the Morgan airport in real time on the simulator, a very satisfying experience for him.
On Sunday May 23rd 2021, Arthur, who has for years struggled to sleep, was sleeping when Joyce got up. Not wanting to wake him if he had been up most of the night, Joyce went about her morning checking on him from time to time. Realizing that he never slept past 9:00 or 10:00 she tried to wake him. When she couldn’t arouse him she called the paramedics who came and determined that his blood sugar was very low, and also considered the possibility of stroke. They took him by ambulance to Davis North Hospital, where stroke was ruled out. Despite being very restless and struggling to wake, Arthur never actually woke up and then passed away on Wednesday, May 26, 2021 in the early evening.
Arthur was a remarkable person. Johnny Kraczek who has now started several other companies and developed several breakthrough technologies noted that Arthur was his early business and engineering mentor and helped him believe that companies and technologies can be built. “If Arthur can do it, we can do it.”
Grandson John Arthur, who had a special technical bond with Arthur, as they built and flew model planes together, built 3 D printers together and tried and compared all the latest technologies from handheld phones to google voice home noted that even a week before Arthur passed, he was adapting his house so that he could turn on and off the lights from his Google Voice speaker or his cell phone. “He was always interested in the latest tech stuff and wanted to try it out.”
Wife Joyce Sessions Whittaker says, “Arthur was a good man. We had seven great years together. I am realizing how very much he did for me every day.”
Daughter Kim tells “You know, after Mom married Arthur, he always treated us well. He never failed to bring us Mother’s Day cards and birthday cards even up until the present, even though Mom passed away years ago now. Who does that? He has been a great Dad for us.” And she also explains that “Arthur was the first man I really respected.”
Daughter Sonja expressed her experience at Arthur’s passing. “These last couple of days, I have felt Helen here. After John Arthur and his kids left from visiting Arthur’s besides, I noticed Arthur’s breathing dropped off. We gathered around the bed and after he took his last breath, both Heidi and I felt a burst of warm energy, then felt clearly both Arthur and Helen were gone.”
Grandson Trenton Kraczek who currently lives in Michigan and tried hard to get back to Utah before Arthur passed told, “Grandpa Arthur and I would get together and talk on the phone at least every week or so. As you know we have very different political positions, and we thoroughly enjoyed discussing our ideas. We never really changed each other’s opinions, but always respected each other. Spending 3 hours discussing politics is kind of our way of saying I really love you as a person. We both enjoy the discussion even though we rarely agree. I am really going to miss talking with Arthur. Very much.”
Granddaughter Chandrelyn Rosalie Talbot, now a premed student at BYU, smiles at memories of projects at Arthur’s, and new years eves parties with Arthur playing games until midnight and then banging pans in the front yard.
Granddaughter Kira Noel Rapley who lives close by in Layton and often visits says, “There are many fun little treasures here in the house. Sometimes I like to just snoop a bit and have found articles about Arthur and the family, documents from his air force career or other interesting things. Take for instance a jacket he bought and keeps in his coat closet. It has a tag which says, ‘Remove for Flying’. Arthur told me he got the jacket and was saving it for his next flight.”
Daughter Renee says “For the last couple of years I have tried to come over on Wednesdays to work on genealogy and record stories with Dad. We have put a lot of pictures and recorded stories about his family on Family Search. I am so grateful now to have gotten to do this with my Dad. He is very dear to me.”
And Granddaughter Chelsie also spent some time every week or so working with Arthur to build two acoustic guitars over the last two years. With tear filled eyes Chelsie says, “They are not done. But it wasn’t really about the guitars anyway.”
Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, June 2, 2021 at 11:00 AM at Kaysville Creekside Chapel, 555 North 100 East, Kaysville, Utah. Family and friends may call Tuesday evening from 6:00 to 8:00 PM at Russon Mortuary and Crematory, 1941 North Main Street, Farmington, Utah and Wednesday morning from 9:45 to 10:45 AM prior to services.
Services will be available virtually via Facebook Live at: https: https://www.facebook.com/russonmortuary/videos/?ref=page_internal
Services will also be streamed on this page under the obituary at 11:00 AM