Jim Whitener was a 63-year resident of Hemet and a lifetime Californian, the son of William and Rose Whitener. He grew up with his brother and two sisters in the small Central Valley town of Caruthers. Jim attended Caruthers public schools and spent one year at Fresno State College before enlisting in the Army Air Corps where he became a navigator on a B-29 flight crew during WWII.
After his military service, Jim attended Cal (University of California, Berkeley) where he received his Veterinary Science degree. While attending Cal, he married the love of his life, Mary Ann Wilber of Highland Park, CA. He and Mary Ann eventually purchased land in Valle Vista (Hemet) and built the Whitener Ranch where he raised chickens and provided fresh eggs to many loyal customers and businesses in Hemet.
Jim and Mary Ann raised three sons, all of whom graduated from Hemet High. Richard (retired) and his wife Cam live part of the year in Hemet, Bill (retired) and his wife Jill live in Niwot Colorado, and David, who lives in Bellevue Washington with his wife Kathy. Jim is survived by his three sons, four grandchildren (Lisha of Vista CA, Mason of Denver CO, Allison of Redmond WA, and Casey of Bellevue WA). He has two great grandsons (Braydon and Caleb of Bellevue). He is also survived by his sister, Anne Helm, and many nephews and nieces.
Jim was a long-time member of the Masonic Fraternities. He was a Master Mason and 63-year member of the Hemet and Hemet/San Jacinto Lodges. He served as Master of the lodge three times, was an area Inspector, and served as a Grand Officer of the Grand Lodge of California. Jim also served as the Worthy Patron of the Order of Eastern Star seven times over six decades. Jim was well respected in the Masonic Fraternity, known for his friendship, willingness to serve, and his ability to memorize lengthy passages of Masonic teachings and rituals.
Jim and Mary Ann loved to travel and visited many countries throughout the world including destinations on six continents. Jim retired from the poultry business in 1975 and earned a license to sell Real Estate. He promptly learned to be a Real Estate Broker and owned the former Wright Reality in Hemet. Jim and Mary Ann’s home was a sanctuary to many young people including relatives, exchange students, and their children’s friends who benefited from their strong and loving care. Jim was known for his kindness, generosity, strong values, his love of classical music, his incredible memory, and for his mastery at playing bridge.
Jim’s life was a shining example of a man of high character, strong personal values and service to his community, representing the best of America’s greatest generation.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the memorial service will be private.
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