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William P. Whitaker - Biographical Sketch

William Porter Whitaker (1882 - 1957)

William Porter Whitaker was born in Centerville, Utah, on April 2, 1882, one of eight children of Thomas W. and Hanna[h] (Waddoups) Whitaker.  His parents were originally from England, and his father, who had been a seafarer, carpenter, and contractor, died in 1886.  William attended school in Centerville, Utah, and the Latter Day Saints College in Salt Lake City.

In 1902 he married Rose Willey (or Welly or Wiley) of Bountiful, Utah, who bore him two children (Mildred and Marcus) and died (probably) in 1906.

Whitaker moved his family to Pocatello in 1906, where he married Mary Hawkley, daughter of an early Pocatello pioneer family, in 1912.  They had six children:  Josephine (born 1915, died in infancy), Mary (born in Jacksonville, Florida, 1918), Violet (born in Lima, Montana, 1919), Albert (born in Pocatello, 1921), Lelah (born in Pocatello, 1925), and John (born in California, 1929).

Always active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, he served on a mission to Florida in either 1911-1912 or 1913-1915, and again (as president of the Southern States mission) from 1940-43.  He served as the Bishop of the Fourth Ward of Pocatello, Stake President for ten years, was a member of the Presidency of the High Priests Quorum, and Patriarch from 1953 until his death in 1957.

Working life took Whitaker in many directions, from brick carrier in Utah and drummer boy in the Spanish American War as a teenager, to over a decade as locomotive engineer for the Oregon Short Line Railroad, farmer, insurance and real estate sales, owner and operator of the Pocatello Greenhouse (which remained in the family until recently), and politician. 

His political involvement included serving as Mayor of Pocatello from 1919 - 1921.  He also served on the Bannock County Hospital Board, was a member of the Chamber of Commerce, Chairman of the Board of the Bannock County Commissioners, ran for Governor in 1938, and was urged to run for several other offices.  Whitaker's adult life was characterized by his civic involvement, as he was a member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, the B.P.O. Elks, Pocatello Chamber of Commerce, etc.

William Porter Whitaker died suddenly of a heart attack in Pocatello January 15, 1957.


Sources consulted:

Defenbach, Byron.  Idaho:  The place and its people.  A history of the Gem State from prehistoric to present days.  Chicago:  The American Historical Society, Inc., 1933.  Vol. 3, pp. 197-199.

The History of Bannock County.  Sponsored by Bannock County Commissioners Tom Katsilometes ... [et al.].  Logan, Utah : Herff Jones, Inc., 1993. Vol. 3, pp. 1098 - 1099.  Vol. 1, p. 29.  Vol. 2, pp. 209-210.

Idaho State Journal (Pocatello).  Obituary:  "Family Sets Services for W.P. Whitaker," January 16, 1957.

Last Modified: 02/08/2008 sc