Dr. George D. Whitney (“Doc”), 94, renowned New England Veterinarian and Herpetologist, famed in later life as a senior 5K runner, died at home on February 21, 2013, in Brattleboro, VT.
For most of his life, except the last four years, Dr. Whitney lived in Orange.
Born December 19, 1918, Whitney served in WWII and then attended Auburn University in Alabama to become a veterinarian at the same time as his father, Dr. Leon F. Whitney. The father-son duo opened the Whitney Veterinary Clinic, located in Orange for 50 years.
George was a founding member of The Paugusset Club of Orange and the New Haven Central Hospital for Veterinary Medicine. He was also active in the Orange Land Trust, Peabody Associates, Rotary Club of Orange (former President), Democratic Town Committee, Naugatuck Valley Audubon Society, Connecticut Herpetological Society, Coalition to Abolish the Leghold Trap, Connecticut Veterinary Medical Assoc., American Veterinary Medical Assoc. and the Eastern States Herpetological League. He’ll be remembered by many for his several of the exhibits at the Annual Orange Country Fair, the first of which was the Reptile Tent.
Dr. Whitney’s interests were always diverse. He was a gardener, a writer, a political activist, a scientific thinker and an educator.
It wasn’t until the age of 80 that he took up running. What began as a quick jog down the driveway to get the mail left him shocked at how winded it made him. Running soon become an obsession; convinced that running could cure just about anything. As one of the oldest runners at any race he got ample attention; his brightly colored mismatched socks became a noted trademark.
After the death of his second wife, Dorothy, he moved to Brattleboro, VT to live with his youngest daughter, Lee Ha, who he loved to refer to as his “keeper”. At 90, he was still entering and driving around New England to races. People around Esteyville in Brattleboro will surely recall him training in his hunter-orange hat and unusual footwear.
He became active in the Brattleboro Rotary Club, the Senior Bowling League, the Senior Center Writing Group and attended local lectures, a contributor whenever possible. Keeping up with changing times he even became a blogger, but one of his greatest joys since relocating has been growing giant dahlias and once a week he’d cut a huge bouquet and walk a mile to town, handing one to each woman he passed.
He left this life with one major goal unmet that he’d want mentioned and that was to GET CORPORATE MONEY OUT OF POLITICS. He believed this to be the greatest threat to our democracy.
George’s life had run its course and he’d run it well. His warm wit will be missed by many.
Dr. Whitney’s divorced first wife, Nancy (Dines) Whitney, is deceased. He is survived by their four children, Carolyn W. Sabol of Pattersonville, NY (husband, John); Charles D. Whitney of Ellsworth, ME (wife, Nancy); Kate W. Consiglio of Orange, CT; and Lee Ha of Brattleboro, VT – five grandchildren, Beth Whitney, Jason Consiglio, Jenny Consiglio, Leon Ha and Charles Ha – and one great-grandchild, Pearl.
There will be a celebration of Doc Whitney’s life in the spring in Orange.
Donations may be sent to Visiting Nurse and Hospice of VT and NH, PO Box 976, White River Junction, VT 05001 or The Brattleboro Historical Society, 230 Main St., #301, Brattleboro, VT 05301