Hyde Park-Howard Whitaker, 82, passed away Monday, June 29, 2015 in Burlington. He was the son of Wilbur S. and Maude A. (Russell) Whitaker and was born at home on his grandfather's farm in South Strafford, August 1, 1932. Raised in South Strafford, Howard graduated from Thetford Academy in 1951 and served in the U.S. Army in Germany shortly thereafter. He married Ardel Kniffin in North Guilford, Connecticut on October 3, 1959.
Howard had experience in many fields including carpentry, farming, well drilling and even working in the South Strafford copper mine while a senior in high school. In 1961, he, his brother, Gerald, and their wives bought a dairy farm in Hyde Park. Gerald and his family moved on to another farm in '67 and Howard and Ardel remained farming there another 20 years, after which, he retired from farming and went on to drill wells.
Howard enjoyed watching a wide variety of sports, especially car racing, baseball and basketball, as these, along with hunting, were active pursuits in his younger days.
He brought all his accomplished carpentry, welding, and mechanic skills to bear in many situations that arose on the farm. He was a creative problem solver. His ingenuity and resourcefulness served him and his neighbors well, as he was often called upon to help with repairs without any thought of reward or compensation.
He was most happy when he was welcoming family and friends into his home. He enjoyed a visit over a cup of coffee and Ardel's cookies, swapping stories of days gone by or getting to know a new visitor. His good nature and humor made everyone feel welcome. He had a twinkle in his eye and a mischievous grin, winning the friendship of every Ralph and Sarah. Over the years, Howard and Ardel opened their home to many, some staying extended lengths of time, calling it their own. His presence will always be missed there.
He is survived by his wife, Ardel Kniffin Whitaker; their children, David Whitaker and partner, Brenda Kniffin of Royalton; Sharon Whitaker and partner, Garrett Cross of Hyde Park and Rebecca Whitaker and partner, Kelly Backus of Lowell; grandchildren, Hilary, Nicholas, Evan, Isaac and Noah; great-grandchildren, Julian and Arhaea; brother, Charles Whitaker of Irasburg; Kenneth Whitaker of Harrisville, NH; sister, Josephine Engberg of Roy, UT and brother and sister-in-law, Ervin and Wanda Needham of South Strafford, VT. Howard was predeceased by his parents; and a son, Daniel Howard Whitaker; sisters Louise Bailey and Jean Whittemore; and brothers Gerald Whitaker and Gene Needham.
Visitation will be held Friday, July 10 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Faith Funeral Home, 165 Brooklyn St., Morrisville. Graveside services will be Saturday, July 11 at 11:00 a.m. at the Hooper Cemetery in Hyde Park.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in Howard’s memory may be made to Lamoille Home Health and Hospice, 54 Farr Avenue, Morrisville, VT 05661 or to Rural Community Transportation (RCT), 171 Bridge St., Suite #4, Morrisville, VT 05661.
Online condolences may be made by visiting faithfh.net.