HISTORY OF PASCO COUNTY
A Quiet Extraordinaire From Among Us
By SCOTT BLACK
This article by Scott Black is copied with permission from the EPHS web site.
A large contingent of family, neighbors, and friends converged on the Trilby Cemetery on June 16 to honor the memory of Glenn Adger Whittington Jr, who passed away on June 11 2012. Among those present were friends from his childhood, but there were also many friends gained since returning here about five years ago, who all regarded Glenn as a genuine, unassuming gentleman.
Arriving here from South Carolina in the late 1920’s, his father, the senior Glenn A. Whittington, was station agent at Trilby for the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad and Southern Railway Express for most of his career. With him was Leota Humphries Whittington, an accomplished musician who would have a strong cultural influence on the Trilby community.
Coming along on August 29 1929, their oldest son was a high achiever from the earliest age, excelling in academics, sports, and extra-curricular activities. It was a point of pride for his parents and the Trilby populace when “Glenn Adger” was accepted into the Citadel in Charleston and news of his achievements were reported back home.
With his engineering degree and military involvement, Glenn was destined for a career that took him away from Trilby. Although a lot of the time he was never too far away geographically, he was involved in a much more complex world than those back home.
Glenn married a local girl, Marianne Elizabeth May, whose grandparents lived just up the street in Trilby from his home, and they started their family while he was active in the military, which included a tour of duty in Korea. First in their family was Glenn Adger Whittington III and then Phillip Trent Whittington, Timothy Hancock Whittington, and Martha Jewel Whittington.
His educational background led him to post-military engineering work in Orlando, Gainesville, Atlanta, and a period of time in California. Glenn’s work was highly technical and he was very successful in his chosen field and was involved in all the latest technology. He raised his family and worked quietly in an exciting era in which there were no limits.
Late in his career, Glenn began to lose some of his family connections with the passing of his mother in 1996 (his father had passed away much earlier in 1962) and his only sibling, Claude, in 1999. The loss of Marianne during that time in 1997, however, was particularly acute.
Over the next few years, retirement and these life changes allowed Glenn to rekindle his local connections and he began traveling down from Gainesville to events in the Dade City area. He began getting involved in alumni activities with Pasco High School and his championship football team from the late 1940’s and renewing old friendships.
During this time, he met up with one particular acquaintance from the past, Charlotte Townsend Tomkow, who had lost her husband (Frank) in 1990. The road from Gainesville to Trilby became even more traveled, until they married in 2007. This event led Glenn full circle and proved that one can indeed “come back home,” as he became a Trilby resident and part of the community again.
Glenn and Charlotte’s five years of marriage were a period of enjoyment for both of them, as they engaged in many enjoyable activities that come with retirement, among them traveling, of course, and even acquiring a sailboat. His local “reconnect” included documenting events from his childhood and even becoming involved in political interest groups. The many new contacts he made during this time complemented those from his earliest years.
Both his old and new circles were saddened with Glenn’s unexpected health complications and passing. The presence of this intelligent, kindly gentleman had been welcomed and his sudden exit was keenly felt.
When Glenn’s obituary appeared in the Tampa Tribune, many of his longest and latest acquaintances, however, were surprised to learn of the magnitude of his life’s work and accomplishments. We discovered much that we did not know about the quiet extraordinaire from among us.
We knew about the Citadel and that his vocation had been highly technical, but we didn’t know that he had overseen the construction of the NASA launch pads at Cape Canaveral or that he had worked on the development of the Klystron tube in the early days of microwave and satellite communications and was later instrumental in producing Ted Turner’s first satellite. We didn’t know about his five patents in robotic automation control or that he had developed a part for the robotic arm of the space station. We knew Glenn as a smart Trilby boy, but we really didn’t know Glenn as the techno-wizard that he became.
There were many things that the quiet gentleman didn’t tell us that would have made for even more good conversation with him. It all made for good conversation at his funeral, as we marveled over his lifetime of accomplishments.
One of the comments made at the Trilby Cemetery was about the contrasting wide expanse of Glenn’s lifetime experiences. He had told of being shown, as a boy, the intricacies of a steam locomotive and being allowed by an old engineer to operate it on a long run. That same young boy kept his hand on the throttle and diligently followed technology as it left that steam era and charged swiftly through his generation toward the ultimate of space exploration.
An interesting life enjoyed by a boy from Trilby. A quiet extraordinaire from among us!