Funeral Time: Friday, June 13th at 11:00AM
Elmer Whitaker, husband of Beverly Ratliff Whitaker, passed away on June 8, 2014 at the age of 85. He was known for his work in the coal business, thoroughbred horse industry and the banking industry. He was often described as intelligent, hard working and generous.
He was born at home in a coal camp, known as Diablock, in Perry County on October 15, 1928 to the late Luther Whitaker and Jettie Wooten Whitaker. He was a bright young man and graduated from Viper High School when he was 16 years old. By the age of 17, he was married to his high school sweetheart, Edith A. Whitaker, had a son, Jack E. Whitaker, and started his first business mining coal.
Although he started with nothing and things were never easy, his vision, hard work and determination eventually led to success. He was completely broke on more than one occasion, but never failed to meet a financial obligation. He often sacrificed personally to pay those working for him. His perseverance led him to be a pioneer in the mining industry. His company, Whitaker Coal Corporation, mined coal throughout eastern Kentucky. As he found success, he gave back by sharing his knowledge and was instrumental in the creation of the Mining Engineering program at the University of Kentucky.
During his early years of mining, he developed a strong appreciation for the ponies that would pull the coal from the mines. This led him to later invest in a thoroughbred horse farm, Bwamazon Farm. He spent twenty-three years in the horse business and had numerous stakes race winners. The most notable horse in his stables, Fight Over, ran seventh in the 1984 Kentucky Derby and finished third in the Preakness Stakes.
In 1978, Elmer Whitaker decided to purchase three banks in central and eastern Kentucky. He chose banking to diversify his investments. In the coal business, he was mining and selling his assets each day he worked. The banks allowed him a way to invest in others and grow his assets. Over the last twenty-six years, he continued to acquire nine additional banks and a wealth management company. Today, Whitaker Bank Corporation of Kentucky is one of the largest Kentucky based banking companies with 48 locations serving 20 Kentucky communities.
Through all his success, he remained humble and never failed to show appreciation to the men and women that worked with him. He worked hard to provide for his family and others. In an effort to better support worthy causes, he started the Whitaker Foundation. He was a strong supporter of educational programs, humanitarian efforts, and medical research. He was a faithful member and attendee of the Old Paris Road Church of God.
Elmer Whitaker is survived by his wife; one son and daughter-in-law, Reverend Jack E. Whitaker and Joan Whitaker; one daughter and son-in-law, Tammy Whitaker Adams and Shawn Adams; eight grandchildren – Anna Whitaker Lake (Bill), Jacquelin Whitaker Murphy (Joe), Elmer Keith Whitaker (Briget), Rebecca Whitaker Doehring (Scott), John L. Whitaker, Jr. (Mesha), Shawn Luke Adams, Jacob Colton Adams, and Joshua Wade Adams. Thirteen great grandchildren – Ethan Kent Lake, Joseph Benton Murphy III, Nathan Brent Lake, Mary Hannah Whitaker, Caylin Dru Doehring, Harley Cole Whitaker, Allison Kate Whitaker, Jack Mitchell Murphy, Mary Grace Murphy, Madison Leigh Doehring, John Mason Whitaker, Edith Sue Doehring, Natalie Paige Whitaker; a host of nieces and nephews, and one dog, Lina. In addition to his parents, he is preceded in death by his wife, Edith A. Whitaker, and one son, John Lawrence Whitaker.
The pallbearers will be grandchildren and great grandchildren. Honorary pallbearers include Bruce Ely, Terrence G. Furlow, M.D., L.D. Gorman, Coach Joe B. Hall, Toby Hatfield, Ralph Ruschell, Wallace Warfield, Peoples Bank and Trust of Madison County Board Members, and Whitaker Bank, Inc. Board Members.
Public Visitation will be held at the Old Paris Road Church of God, 1859 Old Paris Road in Lexington on Thursday, June 12 from 4-8 PM. Funeral services will be at the same location on Friday, June 13 at 11 AM. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Whitaker Foundation, Inc. at P.O. Box 14037, Lexington, KY 40512. Kerr Brothers Funeral Home – Main Street is in charge of the arrangements.