The Reverend James Stewart Whitaker of Westford, MA, formerly of Bedford, MA, passed away on April 22nd in Lincoln, MA. He was 86 years old. Predeceased by his loving wife of 56 years - Janice Grannell Whitaker - in 2013, Jim is survived by his sons Mark A. Whitaker of Mebane, NC, John S. Whitaker of Portland, ME, daughters Anne Whitaker-Simpson of Pownal, VT and Sarah Whitaker Cegalis of Littleton, MA, sister Susan Cannon of Concord, MA, brother-in-law Andrew Grannell of Portland, ME, sisters-in-law Kathy Kihanya of Milton, MA and Beth Mulholland of Boynton Beach, FL, 8 grandchildren, 1 great-grandson, and 13 nieces and nephews.
Son of the late James N. and Esther Hurd Whitaker of Braintree, MA, James was a graduate of The Holderness School (1949), where he was a 3-letter athlete and captain of both the hockey and baseball teams his senior year, and Northeastern University (1954). He prepared for ministry at the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, MA; he was ordained as a Deacon in 1957 and a Priest in 1958. He started his ministry in 1957 as a Curate at Trinity Episcopal Church in Portland, Maine. He then answered the call in 1960 to be Vicar, and then Rector, at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Bedford, MA, where he served until 1981. During his ministry in Bedford he was a change advocate in the community, including a pivotal role in the introduction of sex education to the Bedford school system curriculum. He was also active in youth sports, serving as a Little League manager for many years.
In 1969 Jim began his role as a part-time chaplain at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Bedford. In 1972 he was granted a Masters of Divinity by the Episcopal Divinity School. Going on to work full time for the VA in 1981, Jim found his true calling in his service to veterans and was eventually promoted to Chief of Chaplains. In his retirement 'Papa' Jim enjoyed fishing, cooking, reading, talking with dear neighbors on his daily walks, and, above all, spending time with his beloved grandchildren, especially on the beaches of Emerald Isle, NC and Chebeague Island, ME.
Family and friends will gather to honor and remember Jim for visiting hours on Friday, April 27 from 4:00-7:00 pm at Badger Funeral Home, 347 King St., Littleton, MA. His memorial service will be held on Saturday, April 28th, 10:30 AM at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 100 Pine Hill Rd., Bedford, MA. Jim will be laid to rest with his wife on Chebeague Island, ME.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to:
309 Waverly Oaks Rd.
Waltham, MA 02452
or to one of many charities supporting U.S. veterans https://www.veteransaidbenefit.org/about.htm