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Aug 142013
 
Walter Bespuda (Country Fair Committee), Jane Opper (Race Coordinator), Joe Riccio (Race Director) and Nancy Burke. at today's check presentation on the Orange Fairgrounds.

Walter Bespuda (Country Fair Committee), Jane Opper (Race Coordinator), Joe Riccio (Race Director) and Nancy Burke. at today’s check presentation on the Orange Fairgrounds.

George “Doc” Whitney was well known for his career as a runner in his senior years. Longtime residents will also remember him for the snake tent at the Orange Country Fair.

Doc died in February at age 94 just 7 weeks after completing the New Year’s Day Chilly Chili Run, one of his favorite races.

Soon after Jane Opper, Joe Ricchio and Doc’s daughters began planning a fundraising road race that they called Doc’s Race, which took place on June 30th.

All money from registration fees were earmarked for the Orange Country Fair.

On Wednesday, Aug. 14, the organizers of the June 30 “Doc’s Race” in Orange presented a $2,500.00 check to the Orange Country Fair.

Opper said, “We are all looking forward to this being an annual event on the last Sunday in June.”

are Walter Bespuda (Country Fair Committee), Jane Opper (Race Coordinator), Joe Riccio (Race Director) and Nancy Burke.

Jul 012013
 
A poster bearing one of Doc's "famous" sayings.

A poster bearing one of Doc’s “famous” sayings.

Serious and novice runners (kids and walkers too) set aside their egos and honored George “Doc” Whitney’s family’s wishes by pulling on mismatched socks for the first annual Doc’s Race on Sunday.

Doc Whitney, 94, who died last February (just 7 weeks after completing his final Chilly Chili Run 5k) was the inspiration for the new 5k, with all proceeds going to one of his favorite events, the Orange Country Fair.

Doc was a role model for runners of all ages and a leader in getting older people up on their feet to try running for their health and wellness. He always wore mismatched socks — it was just easier than finding a pair that matched.

It looks like Doc’s plan worked, there were plenty of 65 and older participants registered, one woman even braved the terrible humidity to complete the race using a walking assistance device.

Here are some of the mismatched socks that Orange Live spotted at the event.

Jun 302013
 

Spiderman led the kids' races

Spiderman led the kids’ races

The premiere Doc’s Race attracted serious runners from as far away as Washington State and was well organized by the same folks who oversee the Chilly Chili Run every year.

The event included two kids fun runs: ages 6 and under and 7-11.

The 1st, 2nd and 3rd place runners received trophies.

Orange Live was there from start to finish and we have more than 1,200 photos from the event. (Do you know how long it takes to edit more than 1,000 pictures?)

Here are the photos from the Kids events.

In honor of George “Doc” Whitney who always wore mismatched socks in his road races, nearly every participant in today’s race did the same.

Doc’s children and other relatives were on hand for the festivities.

See several series of photos on our FACEBOOK page at https://www.facebook.com/Orangectlive

Apr 272013
 
Doc Whitney

George “Doc” Whtiney

George “Doc” Whitney was a treasured figure in Orange for several decades. His death on February 21, 2013, in Brattleboro, VT took the town by shock, as many had just watched him cross the finish line at the Chilly Chili Run 7 weeks earlier.

Different residents remember him for different things: his involvement in town government; his veterinary practice; affection for snakes; as a 5k runner; for his beautiful house on the hill next to Lake Whitney; but for sure everyone knew him for just being Doc Whitney.

Doc was a colorful guy. During road races, you could see him coming from a third of a mile away with his signature neon orange knit hat, mismatched socks (Yes, that was on purpose).

His daughters invite everyone to join them in a celebration of his life at the Paugusset Club, 1 Club Road, Orange on April 27 from 1 to 5 p.m.

Dress is casual, because that’s the way George would have dressed.

Anyone attending wearing matching socks will be asked to make a $10 donation to the Orange Country Fair, one of Doc’s passions.

Doc’s family asks that attendees write their personal recollections Doc and give it to them for inclusion in a family book.

For information, send an e-mail to [email protected].

Originally published on: Mar 22, 2013 @ 8:22 a.m.

Apr 112013
 
George "Doc" Whitney running in the New Year's Day Chilly Chili Run one month before his death this year.

George “Doc” Whitney running in the New Year’s Day Chilly Chili Run one month before his death this year.

On Wednesday, the Orange Board of Selectmen  unanimously approved a new 5k Road Race called “Doc’s Race” for Sunday, June 30 in Orange at 10 a.m.

George “Doc” Whitney, 94, began running 5k races at the age of 80. Even after he moved out of his Orange home to live with his daughter in Vermont, Doc would always come back to Orange to participate in the New Year’s Day Chilly Chili Run.

Whitney’s family approached Joe Riccio (Chilly Run race director) in February after Doc’s death about having a race in Doc’s name take place in his “real” hometown of Orange this year.

The Orange Park and Recreation Commission approved the proposal on March 27, and last night the Selectmen gave their blessing, so now organizers are ready to go full speed ahead to make this a wonderful tribute to the town’s most beloved and inspirational runner.

“We want this to be an annual event,” said Race Coordinator Jane Opper. “It is going to be a 5K race (same course as the Chilly Chili Run) and Doc’s family wants all of the proceeds to go to the Orange Country Fair.”

Riccio is the Race Director and First Selectman Jim Zeoli is the Honorary Chairman.

All participants over the age of 65 will  be registered for free.  The event will include two “Fun Runs” for the kids on the Fairgrounds walking track before the race.

Registration and everything else will be outdoors under the Pavilion.

Orange Live will provide registration information as soon as it becomes available. So break in your running shoes and whip yourself into shape for the first annual Doc’s Race in 11 weeks.

Mark your calendar now, but don’t worry, we won’t let you forget.

Feb 212013
 
Doc and daughters

Doc and his daughters taken the day before his passing.

The saddest news I’ve had all week is right here and now.

George “Doc” Whitney, 94, has passed away.

The last time we saw Doc in Orange was on Jan. 1 at the Chilly Chili Run 5K, which he completed.

Over the past couple of days we’ve received many comments from residents who knew him during his remarkable lifetime.

I will follow up with another story soon.

Goodbye Doc, you can relax now. You are missed.

Feb 202013
 
leader of the pack

George “Doc” Whitney, 94, at this year’s Chilly Chili 5K Road Race

On Tuesday, we learned that George “Doc” Whitney was unable to speak, write or use his computer. He had given up his will to live and hospice was coming to his daughter’s home to check in on him.

Today, his daughter Kate reports that he’s resting comfortably.

Let’s all keep Doc in our thoughts and prayers until he’s back to his old self again.

Original Story:

It is with great sadness that I relay this message from Kate Whitney Consiglio to all of you:

This morning Kate wrote, “I want the town to know my dad, George D. Whitney has lost his spirit and has come to the end. We have hospice coming in today. He is unable to speak or use the computer or write, so anybody who knows him, knows this is not the life he is used to living. He is not in any pain that we can tell and his 3 girls are with him and will be until the end. I am writing on this page because I know how well loved he has been by the town he lived in and loved for 75 years. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers.”

I met “Doc” Whitney in 2000 when he was 81 years old, he was wearing mismatched socks and a T-shirt that he personalized with a catchy saying in magic marker. His race number was “81″ just like his age, all of these things remained his trademarks for the next 13 years.

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Doc several times over the past decade, most memorable were the time he told me about how he began running — at the age of 80.

He said he would walk down his long driveway to get the mail, and was winded by the time he reached the mailbox.

He consulted with his son — who I believe was a running coach somewhere — and learned how to run, breathe and pace himself on the track at Yale.

The following year he was ready, and took on the Chilly Chili Run 5K on New Year’s Day.

Jane Opper recalls creating a new age category to accommodate Doc Whitney, and people would wait by the finish line to cheer him on as he crossed.

Doc at the starting line

Doc at the starting line

One year Doc didn’t show up for the race and I called his home to see if he was ok. His wife, Dorothy said he was a little under the weather but that he would be there the following year. And he was.

After Dorothy passed away Doc lived alone in their custom built home  for a while. But at his daughter’s urging decided to leave Orange, where he’d lived for 75 years and move in with family in Vermont.

He invited me over to his home to tell me about his life and career as a veterinarian in Orange, and everything else he’d done over his lifetime. He loved his house, which was evident during our tour — what a unique place it is!

When he moved, Doc mapped out a route up there, and continued to run and keep in shape, every year returning to the Chilly Run, where, by now, organizers had set up a new age category for 90 and over.

Doc was joined by a few youngsters over the years ages 90 and over, yet, even up till 7 weeks ago when he crossed the finish line, he remained the oldest runner in Chilly Run history.
Always full of life and humor, Doc Whitney was the “belle of the ball” at the Chilly Run.

Opper recalls how he would joke with the other runners and enjoyed everyone’s company whenever he returned to Orange.

When I told her about Kate’s note, she expressed deep sadness and began to cry. She said he had a tough time at this year’s Chilly Run, stopping before he crossed the finish line because he couldn’t make it in one continuous run, but he did cross the line like a true champion.

“Doc has always had so much energy. Such a positive outlook on life and even when he fell in the 2012 race, I called him on the phone, and he said ‘I can’t hear who you are, but thank you for calling.’” she said. “He was bound and determined to come back and finish the race this year, and he did.

Doc didn't write a clever saying on his shirt this year, just his age.

Doc didn’t write a clever saying on his shirt this year, just his age.

“During the award ceremony, his daughter kept asking if he wanted to sit down, and he said “NO” he would not take a chair,” Opper said. “He is such a wonderful person and a big part of Orange.”

“I’m heartbroken, this is so sad,” Opper said. “He was an inspiration to everybody, especially the older runners showing them that anything is possible. He is such an important person to the town of Orange — he was our veterinarian when I was a child. We are always so happy to see him when he comes back to Orange.”

I know I join all of you in sending Doc our prayers.

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