JANICE HEFFERNAN WHITING

Posted on Jan 18, 2012 - 03:59 PM

Janice Heffernan Whiting died Monday, Jan. 9, 2012, at her home in Gloucester, Va., at the age of 93.

The daughter of Calistis Edward Heffernan and Jessie Leland Stone, Mrs. Whiting spent her childhood and youth at "the cottage" on Best View Road in New London, Conn., the town of her birth, and at her maternal grandparent’s house on Pleasant Street in Great Barrington, Mass. Her mother’s family owned and managed Perry and Stone Jewelers in both locations.

Mrs. Whiting attended Connecticut College for three years until, in 1941, she became engaged to Captain George Whiting, a 1936 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy stationed at the submarine base in New London. Before they could marry, his "boat," the SS Triton 201, was ordered to Pearl Harbor. Mrs. Whiting followed on the ocean-liner SS Mariposa of the old Matson Line, and the couple wed on the island of Oahu in August the same year.

On Dec. 7, while her husband was on patrol off Midway, Mrs. Whiting and another officer’s wife staying with her awoke to the "racket" filtering up from the harbor: the aerial attack by Japan that would mark the beginning of the United States’ involvement in WWII. A year and a half into the war, she received news that the submarine on which Captain Whiting was the executive officer, the SS Grenadier 210, did not report in. For most of 2½ years, Mrs. Whiting did not know his fate. It was only after the cessation of hostilities that he telephoned his family from Guam, and she learned of his survival as a P.O.W. in a Japanese interrogation camp.

The couple began to recapture years lost to the war while stationed in Key West, Fla., one of many assignments as a naval officer’s wife before her husband concluded his 30-year career. Mrs. Whiting gave birth to four children over 11 years, and the family eventually relocated to Norfolk, Va., in 1969. Here, she finished raising her family, while completing the college education interrupted years earlier, obtaining a B.A. in Philosophy and Religion from Old Dominion University in 1977.

In 1979, she and Captain Whiting settled permanently in Gloucester, where they beautifully restored and added on to a turn-of-the-century farmhouse on the water. Mrs. Whiting worked passionately for the then newly formed Rosewell Foundation where her husband was the director for five years. During this time, preservation of the 18th century Virginia mansion’s massive brick chimneys and walls resumed, a newsletter initiated, and the first steps in new archaeology begun. Her opportunity to participate in the archaeological work of Ivor Noël Hume and William Kelso, first at Rosewell and later the Jamestown Rediscovery excavations, was a great source of satisfaction and pride.

She was a member of the Peninsula Fine Arts Society, the Gloucester-Mathews Humane Society, the Gloucester Historical Society, and the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities.

After the passing of her husband in 2001, Mrs. Whiting completed an exhaustive work on the genealogy and history of her family in New England, an effort the two of them had started earlier. A skilled writer with a keen, opinionated intellect, she often submitted letters for the editorial page of the Gloucester-Mathews Gazette-Journal, expressing her desire for justice and fairness in society. In the 1950s, Mrs. Whiting worked for civil rights in Norfolk, and later in the 1970s promoted the awareness of mental health concerns after she returned to the city. She had a deep concern for the welfare of all creatures, the conservation of their habitat, as well as the protection of our world environment in general.

Mrs. Whiting is survived by her daughter, Galen Whiting Bosworth; two sons, Renn Harris Whiting and George Harris Whiting Jr.; and two granddaughters, Whitney Whiting and Brittany Bosworth. She was preceded in death by her husband, Captain George Harris Whiting, and her eldest son, Scott Stone Whiting.

A memorial service was held on Tuesday, Jan. 17, at Ware Episcopal Church. Burial will be in the family graveyard plot in Great Barrington, Mass.

Memorial gifts may be made to any worthy cause devoted to human disaster relief, preservation of the environment, and the care of animals. The Gloucester-Mathews Humane Society was particularly dear to her heart.