John Alexander Whatley
May 1, 1953 – August 18, 2018
On July 8, 2018, Mamsie was sitting on the newly constructed porch with her six-year-old granddaughter Kate. Papa had built the porch two years prior. Kate, with her wide eyes and new six-year-old front teeth, asked, “Mamsie, when is Papa going to get better?” Mamsie thought for a moment and replied, “I don’t know if Papa will get better.” Kate then said, “If Papa doesn’t get better, he gets to go live with God, and that is better.” On August 18, 2018, Alex Whatley went to live with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and he is better.
John Alexander Whatley was born on May 1, 1953, to Walter Alexander and Annie Bess McKenzie Whatley. He grew up in Opelika, attending the Opelika City Schools and graduated from Auburn University in 1976 with a degree in Building Science. On Valentine’s Day 1976, he met Debra Stone of Pine Apple, Alabama, on a blind date, and they were married in 1978. In addition to his wife, he is survived by four children, Libby (Mike) Burch, Edward (Elizabeth) Whatley, Mary Kathryn Whatley, and Walter Whatley. He is also survived by his granddaughters, Kate, Anne Stephens, and Margaret Whatley, all of whom he adored; his sister, Mary Ann (Cliff) Davenport, and his mother-in-law, Marileta Stone.
Alex enjoyed a wonderful life. He bought a Hobie catamaran sailboat when he was eighteen years old, taught himself to sail at Lake Martin, and enjoyed sailing in the Gulf of Mexico until recently. He enjoyed tailgating at Auburn games, cooking whole pigs pit-style and taking them to campus for the Arkansas game, cooking a low country boil for LSU, and cooking hot dogs for the Georgia game. If Winn-Dixie on Fox Run Parkway had sold elephant meat, he would have enjoyed cooking it too!
Alex loved his family with a passion. Not only did he love Debra and the children, he also loved his extended family and enjoyed seeing them on many occasions, including weddings, holidays, and the Whatley reunion. His favorite family event was the Whatley Christmas Eve celebration in Beauregard, which he never missed during his sixty-five years. He also took delight in shooting fireworks for friends and family and entertaining them by a fire made with logs that he cut and split and kindlin that he gathered and split with a hatchet.
In July 1982, Alex and Debra started Whatley Construction Company in their dining room with a 1978 Ford F-150 that cost $4,500. He drove an F-150 until he died. He loved constructing buildings and working with the owners, architects, subcontractors, and employees on his projects. He started the company with two employees. Many of his employees worked with Whatley Construction for twenty plus years. An architect described him as having a “common sense and hard work approach to every project.”
Alex was a member of Trinity United Methodist Church his whole life. He and Debra were instrumental in starting the Believers Sunday School class in 1979. He was treasurer of the class for thirty-nine years. One of his favorite things to do was host the Believers’ Christmas party and greet everyone in his red plaid pants. Alex served on many committees at Trinity throughout the years.
While Alex squeezed a nickel until the buffalo squealed, he was generous with people who were less fortunate than he. Not only would he be embarrassed by all these accolades, he would also fuss about how much it cost to publish this obituary.
In memorium, please direct gifts to the Gladys Whatley Blanton Nursing Scholarship at East Alabama Medical Center. Alex was president of the Whatley Reunion when this scholarship was established.
“Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God; Whom I myself shall behold, And whom my eyes shall see and not another.” –Job 19:26-27
Visitation was held in the parlor of Frederick-Dean Funeral Home on Monday, August 20, 2018 from 5:00 until 8:00 p.m. CST.
Funeral Service was held in the sanctuary of Trinity United Methodist Church on Tuesday, August 21, 2018 at 10 a.m. CST. Reverend Earl Ballard officiating. Interment will follow at Garden Hills Cemetery.
Frederick-Dean funeral home is directing. www.FrederickDean.com.
John Alexander Whatley