Earlier this month, Brattleboro resident Dr. George D. Whitney -- "Doc" -- died at home. He lived in Vermont for the past four years, and area residents certainly would have remembered seeing the 94-year-old jogging around town, wearing his bright orange hat.
Whitney served his country in World War II. He opened a veterinary clinic with his father in Orange, Conn., and ran it for 50 years. At 80, he took up running, often competing in area 5k events. During his life, he was very active in the communities he lived, both in Connecticut and here in Brattleboro,
As his family shared in his obituary, "Dr. Whitney’s interests were always diverse. He was a gardener, a writer, a political activist, a scientific thinker and an educator."
In addition to being a son, husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, Whitney was also a regular and enthusiastic contributor to our Opinions page.
To honor him today, we offer some notable quotes from his submissions to the Reformer:
On growing old:
"I differ from Richard Davis’ statement about the need for older humans to take it easy because of age being responsible for joint cartilage wearing out. As a veterinarian that is not the case with companion animals, but may be the case with older humans that I will witness as I age. So far that is not the case as I pound the pavement daily on my 5k run. I’m 94 going on 95." (Jan. 6, 2013)
On the importance of exercise:
"When science finally accepts that we all are capable of running when conditioned for it, only then will science be able to establish what is normal for humans. Sedentary people are not normal because they do not run. Other exercise is better than none, but it is with running that we can lose weight that walking or even cycling cannot accomplish." (April 21, 2010)
"It is said you can judge a person by the friends he keeps. As a veterinarian, I think you can judge a person by the dog he keeps. For example a poodle-type dog owner has the most intelligent type dog. Years ago John Neff, an Irish Setter breeder who went on to be President of the American Kennell Club, told me the Irish Setter might be the dumbest breed of all. President Obama’s family owns one of the brightest dog breeds, a Portuguese water dog. His opponent owns an Irish Setter." (Oct. 2, 2012)
On enacting change:
"Everyone who wants to do something about the corruption in Washington, D.C., join a free group, The A** Kickers of America. This group will have one object and that is to influence legislators to pass legislation to kick the corporations out of influencing them. How to do it? That’s as simple as adding the letters, AK after your name, that stands for A** Kickers and you are a member. When enough people with the AK after their names contact legislators to pass that legislation, you and I will have done what most have said cannot be done." (June 17, 2011)
"In my lifetime I have seen only a few presidents with charisma and they were Presidents Roosevelt, Reagan, Clinton and now President Obama. Also we have had few Presidents who could be classed as intellectuals and they were Roosevelt, Wilson, Clinton and now President Obama with an intellectual First Lady." (July 30, 2011)
On the economy:
"Suppose all the money owned by all citizens of our country including in Swiss banks and offshore islands was placed in a giant ice cream cone with chocolate shot on top. Draw a line across the cone where you and readers think it belongs to separate the money in active circulation and that that is sitting above the line. Below the line is the rent and cost of fuel for homes and cars and all other money that is a cost of living and vacations and donations. Below that line are the people who, for no cause of their own, have to have help to survive and that includes those who require food stamps and other charitable help and, yes, even a few free loaders." (Dec. 16, 2013)
"The frosting on the cake are the salaries for lobbyists. They are paid any amount they ask for as it’s a tax deductible expense as a cost of doing business. So we taxpayers pay for the influence peddlers to pay out legislators to vote in the best interest of the companies, rather than we voters. For shame!" (June 15, 2009)
On Vermont’s representation in Washington, D.C.:
"The quality and stature of Vermont Washington legislators is a great vision to behold. As a Connecticut flatlander who became a citizen of Vermont, I know how influential good legislators can be." (April 12, 2010)
In his obituary, Whitney’s family states: "George’s life had run its course and he’d run it well. His warm wit will be missed by many."
Count the editorial board among those who will miss him.
Our condolences to his family and friends.