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Obituary for Joel Willard Whitaker

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Joel Willard Whitaker

July 20, 1940 - October 16, 2015

Joel Willard Whitaker passed away peacefully on October 16, 2015, at home following a bike ride.


Joel was born in Ogden, Utah, to Willard John and Vera Marie Thorpe Whitaker on July 20, 1940.  He attended Ogden City Schools, graduating from Ogden High and Weber State College.  He taught science at Highland Jr. High and Ben Lomond High School, retiring after 46 years on July 16, 2015.  No one left his room without knowing that he cared—about their learning and more importantly, about each and every one of them.


Joel was a dyed in the wool scientist: always searching, and in his pursuit of knowledge, a stickler for details.


Having roller-skated competitively as a youngster, he remained active:  hiking, fishing, camping, shooting, playing racquet ball, and biking.


Joel was active in the LDS church.   He had served in various callings, including several bishoprics.    He was currently serving as the High Priest Group Leader in the Mt. Lewis 5th   Ward.


He was preceded in death by his parents, and is survived by his only brother Quinn (Hope Vicki), nephew John (Tasia Rasmussen), and Jill Flamm, close friend of 47 years.


Services will be held at 2:00 pm on Saturday, October 24, 2015 at Leavitt’s Mortuary, 836 36th Street, Ogden, Utah.   Friends and family may gather from 12:45 to 1:45 pm prior to services.


A Celebration of Joel’s Life will be held at a later date.


Interment at Leavitt’s Aultorest Memorial Park, 836 36th Street, Ogden, Utah.


In lieu of flowers please consider making a donation to United Way of Northern Utah.


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Service Schedule

Visitation Information

Date: Saturday, October 24, 2015

Time: 12:45 pm - 1:45 pm

Leavitt's Mortuary


836 36th Street , , Ogden, UT, 84403

Service Information

Date: Saturday, October 24, 2015

Time: 2:00 pm -

Leavitt's Mortuary


836 36th Street , , Ogden, UT, 84403

A Celebration of Joel’s Life will be held at a later date.



Cemetery Information

Date: Saturday, October 24, 2015

Leavitt's Aultorest Memorial Park


836 - 36th St., , Ogden, UT, 84403

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Timeline for Joel Willard Whitaker

Born: July 20, 1940
Died: October 16, 2015

Condolences for Joel Willard Whitaker

Megan Clifford posted on 4/13/16

I've been carrying some of the conversations I had with Mr.Whitaker around like talismans my life since. I couldn't tell you if it was what he had said or if it were more about the way he spoke to you. But the combination let me know that he was the kind of person I wanted to be like.


Sean Militscher posted on 11/25/15

A Man, a Teacher, a Friend ​Joel Whitaker. What else can I say about him? Everything I’ll say is already encompassed in him, in his adoring heart and soul. He brought joy and comfort to any one he met. I personally like to think he doesn’t have one enemy. He tried to make the best of everything, and he cared for his students, his friends, and his family. ​As a man in general, he is what I aspire to be; witty, intelligent, and more than all, caring. He enjoyed making people laugh and his witty humor was one of the things I enjoyed whenever I saw him. I could ask him any question, sure nit always about science, but he could give me an answer to almost every one; but it’s the wat he cared for people was what I’ll remember him by. ​As a teacher, he was one of the best. I’ll be honest, I didn’t pay attention in class sometimes, I’d be too entranced by him or something else, but I learned more than just chemistry from this “crazy, old” chemistry teacher. He taught his students that there is life outside of school, and that you have to be able to be a functioning member of society. He coined the very famous term, “Social Skills.” His social skills helped students take better care for themselves regarding school and work. Sure, he wouldn’t always teach from the book, but neither did John Keating. Mr. Keating taught his students to make the most of every day, “Carpe Diem!” Mr. Whitaker always told us, “Carpe the heck out of the diem!” One of his quotes I’ll never forget. Mr. Whitaker will always be my John Keating, because even though he didn’t always teach from the book, he taught me that there is more to life than what is in that book. ​As a friend, oh dear, as one of the dearest friends I’ll ever have. He always took the time to get to know me on a personal level. He came to see me in my Jazz concerts and my theatre performances. He always asked what I was involved with, even after leaving his class at the end of junior year. He told me what potential I had, and what I like to believe I still have. Whenever I had a problem, whether at home, work, or school, he was always willing to listen and help me through. I remember, one day, it was a day in September of my junior year in his class. This one kid was bullying and harassing me. I was sitting at my desk crying and I remember hearing him send the kid to the office. He came over to my desk and put his hand on my shoulder. He asked me to talk to him about it after class. Then, that was when I knew he really cared about me. And I hear a lot of similar stories from friends of mine who took his class, but only a few of them knew how I really felt about him. I could never work up the courage to tell him how I felt. ​Mr. Whitaker, know that I’ll be forever grateful for what you’ve done to make me a better person and the man I am today. I can’t express the necessary emotions to explain how much I cared for you, as you did for me. Thank you for everything you’ve done, for me, and for everyone else. Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow. Rest in peace, old-man Whitaker.


Madeline Pappas posted on 11/2/15

To Joel Family, I was a very good friend of Joel's and also roller skated with him at the Berthana Roller Rink in Ogden, Utah. He was also a special person to me, and his death is a total shock to me as I only learned of his passing today. I wish I would have known earlier so I could have said a good-bye to him. He will always be thought of.


Elizabeth posted on 10/28/15

Deepest sympathy to Joel's family and to Miss Flamm. He truly made a difference in so many lives and his influence lives on in the ones he touched. Peace be with you.


Kristi May (Albiston) Torstenson posted on 10/25/15

I attended physical earth science with Mr. Whitaker for 2 years in a row 1988 and 1989. I did not want to move on to Biology and he let me stay and teacher aide for him. In my era some neat things came out of his class. One student in particular took his science fair project to the extreme and never had to work a day again. I was too lost for him to help stabilize me. But he was the author of my perseverance and my life would be less if he hadn't been in it. My son was in his class 2010. I showed up for parent teacher conference after some years and description he remembered me, one of multitudes of students. He got to explaining to me that my son's citizen ship was only satisfactory because he did not work well in the group and was stand offish. once I explained that he was doing exceptionally well considering his Autism, Mr Whitaker changed the tone of the conference right there and we devised a plan to help my succeed in school, not just his class. He put in extra time to pair him with strong role models and I think that made all the difference in his high school and college career. In fact when my daughter's boyfriend realized who my son was, he was shocked to learn that he was Autistic. I think Mr Whitaker could pull the best out of a student work with it and make them a stronger person. My daughter also had him as a teacher 2013. my youngest daughter will miss the instruction and life lessons that he had to share. We were unable to attend the services and hope to hear about the Celebration of his life to participate and to share with those he held dear and those of us he touched in ways no one will ever know. let peace and healing touch all those who will miss him, everyday.


Elaine Shelburne posted on 10/24/15

Joel, my colleague for 15 years at Ben Lomond High School, always made me smile. Students and I could talk with him about random yet pertinent scientific issues--oil fracking, the decibels on the restroom blow dryers (yes, we discovered they are much too loud), calibration of instruments, heat deflected from the library windows --were some that come immediately to mind. He could blend the scientific principles with pleasantries and humor. He was definitely there for the students and among his best qualities was caring about each one of them. He was a great listener and mentor to them. He always stayed late after school, it seemed, and I have a photo of his after school “barre” exercises along with a line of Bonnie Lassies stretching out, with him. (See? ‘Still makes me smile!) From the day I began as the teacher-librarian, he was a valuable support. He let me know that he appreciated the learning environment in the library. He believed the students were the important users; he cared that the library was available, friendly to them, and provided academic and learning stimulus. He’d walk into the library, look around, turn to me and say, “I want you to know that what you are doing is valuable and I appreciate it.” I look back on those times, and it just meant so much, then as well as now. Besides all that, I'll always remember his overly-generous, frequent remark that "we now have Meryl Streep" in our library! (smiles, again) I’m so thankful to have known Joel, as are many, many others. My sincere condolences to his family and to Jill, in this sudden loss. May you be given the peace that passes all understanding. Elaine Shelburne


Cheryle Johnson posted on 10/23/15

My dear remarkable friend, Joel Whitaker, was far more than an extraordinary teacher. Professor Whitaker was a brilliant man with the kindest and purest heart. He loved his Ben Lomond family. He cared about and nurtured every student. Students were always his first priority. In the 27 years I have worked with him, I never heard a angry or negative word come from him. He greeted everyone with a wonderful smile and a happy disposition. He always had a kind or complimentary word for everyone. He was a last of an era, who wore a shirt and tie every day to school. Professor Whitaker had wisdom beyond his scientific knowledge. He was a true Scholar in every sense of the word. All three of my sons had the privilage of having Joel as a teacher. My son Zachary said he was much more than a teacher. He said he was a Professor and lovingly called him Professor Whitaker. Joel always gave time to listen and help both student and collegue. We all gleaned precious gems from this magnificent, kind, gentle soul. Education lost one of its most outstanding teachers who always exceeded meeting his students needs. Joel blessed my life in many ways. I am so very sad that he will no longer grace the hallowed halls of Ben Lomond. I loved Joel and he will always have a special place in my heart. I pray Joel's Beautiful soul will rest in the palm of God's hands. I will sincerely miss you Professor Whitaker. Jill, my heart hurts for your significant loss. You and Joel were the best of what you were together. My Love, Prayers and Sympathy are with you and his family. Cheryle Johnson


Daryl and Colette Peterson posted on 10/23/15

We are so sorry for your loss. Joel was truly a great man


joann gomez posted on 10/23/15

Sorry for your loss prayers for the family and Miss Flamm ( HEAVEN HAS GAINED ANOTHER ANGEL ) RIP IN PEACE Mr Whitaker, You will be miss.


Matthew Durham posted on 10/23/15

Mr. Whitaker was the greatest teacher ,and an awesome person.the world truely lost a great in peace.


Michaela Thyberg posted on 10/23/15

Mr. Whitaker was an amazing teacher. I graduated from Ben Lomond in 2001 and couldn't have come as far in my life without having him there for me in my teenage years. He was a wonderful person and I'm sorry for your loss.


Dave Mamanakis posted on 10/23/15

Of all the various peoples that I have had a chance to meet over the years, I believe Joel was one of the best. He had a love for learning and passed that love on to all of his students, well, at least the ones who were smart enough to stay after his "introduction" on the first day, his nefarious "If you don't want to be here, I'll sign your transfer slip." speech. He was always encouraging experimentation, up to and including letting us build a still, an experiment with nitroglycerin (well, he kept sabotaging that experiment, thank goodness), and my favorite Nitro triiodide... We built an o-scope and a CO2 Laser, vaporized a test tube, made mustard gas, watched what happened when you put sodium in water, lit hydrogen balloons, froze endothermic compounds to the table, and broke enough glassware to gain the moniker of "a human wrecking ball". And still I managed to pass his classes. He had a great sense of humor and was very accommodating of our shenanigans... It was because of Joel's and my Father's influence that I went into Computer Science, and still have a love for learning and science in general. I still use concepts that he taught in physics class as I pursue more aspects of Amateur Radio. He was more than just a teacher, he was a life coach: teaching us how to avoid asking "do you want fries with that" for a career. He was also a friend: he and Jill came out to support me when my brother passed away. My life is better for having known him. I will really miss him.


Rainee Stevens posted on 10/23/15

Mr. Whitaker was a teacher that I can always look back on and have nothing but fond memories of. He was the first teacher that I took chemistry from, and because I learned so much from him I continued to take chem every semester and each year until I graduated in 2000. At times, after class he and I would talk science and do some experiments. He was just a great mentor. Out of all the chem courses that I've taken only his did I make mistakes by breaking instruments containing sulfuric acid and hydrochloric acid another time, both occurrences I just looked at him and said, "it's in my eyes", without hesitation he sprinted to grab talc powder and just pelted me by the fist full. He saved my eyes and skin, we laughed about it later; and it's still a story that I tell to my students. Today, I am on path to earning my PhD in molecular genetics and part of my success is because of his patience, dedication the knowledge that he bestowed onto me. He will be missed.


Paola Arevalo posted on 10/23/15

Mr.Whitaker was definitely one of the most funniest teachers as well as such a caring person. It's crazy to think that just last year I had his class. Mr.Whitaker will be dearly missed, from his silly jokes to him stretching on the upstairs rails. May he rest in peace, condolences to his family, friends & Ms.Flamm. "Shut up this is a recording.." -Mr.Whitaker


Yoselinne Alvarez posted on 10/22/15

Mr. Whitaker was one of the most humbled teacher and human being I have ever had the privilege to meet. My condolence to all his family and friends. RIP Mr. Whitaker you will be dearly missed.


mary ellen mccomb posted on 10/22/15

There are no words to express the sense of loss I feel as I am writing this. I know I am a better person for having known Joel. Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers.


Bonnie Darlington posted on 10/22/15

The world and halls of Ben Lomond will never find a better man, friend, and teacher than Joel Whitaker. His true love of life and the love and concern that he had for the children that he taught radiated in his voice as well as in his smiling face. He LOVED teaching ... and he loved the kids! Every child that went through Joel's door experienced wisdom, compassion, love, value, and that special spiritual glow. There was also the witty humor, laughter and mischievous smile that made everyone love Mr Whitaker. I taught along side Joel for many years and I will forever cherish the good memories and the love and kindness that he shared with all that knew him. Joel helped shaped the minds and spirits of thousands of students as well as colleagues and friends. For this Joel, we will be forever grateful. I will truly miss you dear friend.


Montana Evans posted on 10/22/15

Mr. Whitaker was one of the greatest people I have ever known. I am so blessed to have had him in my life for the short time I did. He got me through some of the hardest times of my life and he meant the world to me. He always provided wisdom, life advice, and lots of humor. We often joked about him signing my adoption papers. It breaks my heart to think of all the students that will never get to experience his greatness and truly understand the legend he has left in the halls of Ben Lomond and the hearts of those he encountered. I will forever love and miss you and your infectiously positive energy. Thank you so so so much for everything you've ever done for me. I wish I could repay you somehow... I will try my best to spread the humor, happiness, and positive light that you exhibited every day. Thank you for being a part of my life, "adopted dad."


Mike Alvord posted on 10/22/15

I loved to watch Joel interact with the students. Every single one would smile at his quips. I did too. I can't say that I haven't stolen a few from him. His room was the first place I headed when I heard a good story or joke. Many students asked if we were brothers. It was fun to watch their minds at work when we told them yes but we had different last names because one of us got married. I always smiled walking around that corner and seeing Joel's foot stretched over the rail. Ben Lomond hasn't quite been the same without him. I'm lucky our paths crossed in this life, I hope they do in the next one too.


Karen Driscoll posted on 10/22/15

Joel will be greatly missed by so many people. His quick wit, contagious smile, and genuine concern were always a bright spot in our day. He had a wonderful way of making a person feel like they were always appreciated! One of our favorite memories was catching him in the hall stretching his legs. As my daughter said, "He was more flexible than all of our cheerleaders." My daughter and I love him dearly and will always be grateful he was in our lives. We are proud to be fellow Scots!