Willie Velma Caery Whitney

Monday, August 22, 2016
Willie Velma Caery Whitney

Willie Velma Caery Whitney of Manila was born at Black Water (now Blackwater) and died Aug. 22, 2016, in Jonesboro at age 87 after a full and amazing life.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Guy M. Whitney, Sr., a daughter, Dawn Whitney, her parents, Walter W. Caery, Sr. and Opal Billings Caery, three brothers, Charles Caery, Kenneth Caery and Walter Caery, Jr., and one sister, Wandara Caery Burgett.

She is survived by one daughter, Judith Whitney Pohlod; two sons, Guy M. Whitney, Jr. and Marv Whitney; six grandchildren, Reed, Katie, Guy, III, JJ, Michele and Mandy; six great-grandchildren; two sisters, Ora Lee Caery Castleman and Trudene Caery Hatcher; one brother, Jerry Caery Sr.; and many beloved nieces, nephews and friends.

Mrs. Whitney held an associate degree from Williams College and bachelors and master's degrees from Arkansas State University. She loved the English language and was a well-known and beloved teacher and member of the community at Manila and the broader community of Northeast Arkansas and Southeast Missouri. She taught English and other subjects in almost a dozen area schools in a tenure that spanned six decades, including recent years when she served as a substitute after her formal retirement. Even for the current school year, she planned to substitute teach. She also tutored countless students, and helped write papers, theses, sermons, and news articles. She believed in kids, sometimes when they didn't believe in themselves. She enjoyed playing all sorts of games, and if you ever beat her in Scrabble, she must have let you win.

Speaking of favorites, her love of sports, particularly basketball, rivals English for a top spot. As so many current and former basketball players came by to see her, they all said she "never missed a game." And she didn't hesitate to mention to someone that he or she should come to see her about school work that needed improvement. In addition to being a faithful fan for local teams, her interest in and commitment to following Razorback sports was legendary. She called the Hogs with gusto!

Mrs. Whitney was, above everything else, a devoted Christian. She belonged to the Blackwater Baptist Church where she served in many capacities: treasurer, Sunday school teacher, and pianist to name a few. She served both Blackwater Baptist and the Manila Community United Methodist church as pianist, keeping a tight travel schedule between services on Sunday morning. She knew the Bible well and quoted scripture as frequently as she quoted literature.

She belonged to several local organizations and was a member of a ukulele band that cheered the lives of those in confined living situations. She lived a life of love and service to those who were blessed to be in her path. Her family is extremely grateful for the kind and loving gestures during her illness. They would like to thank the staffs on the third floor of St. Bernards Hospital and at the Flo and Phil Jones Hospice House. Their considerate care has been a tremendous help and aid during this time of Mrs. Whitney's life. Should anyone want to make a memorial gift, we suggest Blackwater Baptist Church, The Hospice House, or the Razorback Foundation. Her family will be appreciative of any expression. And should there be a grammatical error in this announcement, her family takes comfort in the fact that she is resting in a place where all is forgiven.

Services will be at Blackwater Baptist Church at 11 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 25, with visitation at the church from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday, August 24. Arrangements are by Heath Funeral Home, Paragould.

Online tributes: www.heathfuneralhome.com