October 10, 1925 — February 2, 2017
Ira Edward Whitlock, 91, passed away on Feb. 2, 2017, at his home in St. George, Utah. He is survived by his wife of 70 years, Mary Alyce “Ricki” Whitlock; his brothers, Jerry Whitlock and Gene Whitlock; his sister, Virginia Kimzey; his children, Jeanne Gunter, Joyce Fields, Reed Whitlock, and Jamie Whitlock; 17 grandchildren and 31 great-grandchildren.
Ira was born in Worland, Wyoming, on Oct. 10, 1925, to Andrew Whitlock and Ludina Anderson Whitlock. As a child growing up in the depression, Ira sold newspapers and sang in bars for spare change which instilled in him the work ethic he was known for throughout his life. In school, he excelled in athletics and academics, especially mathematics. He graduated high school in 1943 with numerous awards and honors. After graduation, he attended one semester at the University of Wyoming then enlisted in the Army Air Corp as a bombardier. During his training in El Paso, Texas, a young, hot Mexican tamale caught his eye. He and Ricki married June 6, 1946, in Worland, Wyoming.
Although he started his career in banking, he was quickly drawn to politics and moved to Washington, D.C., and worked for the Senate Parliamentarian. Then in 1950 he joined the staff of Sen. Lester Hunt (D) of Wyoming as a legislative assistant. After the Senator’s death in 1954, Ira and his family moved back to Worland where he returned to banking. But politics grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and pulled him back to Washington, D.C. in 1959 to work for Sen. Gale McGee (D) of Wyoming as a legislative assistant. Throughout his career in politics, Ira raised his family in Alexandria as he served as the Congressional Liaison Officer for the Department of the Interior and the National Park Service, from which he retired in 1989.
After retirement, Ira and Ricki served an LDS mission to Tonga 1989-1990. After their mission, they swore off humidity forever and moved to St. George, Utah, where they have lived for the past 26 years. During his time in St. George, Ira was an active member of the community and the Democratic Party, wrote for the St. George Spectrum, and taught American government at the Institute for Continued Learning at Dixie State University for 18 years. Over his life, he served as a bishop, high councilor, temple worker in the Washington D.C. and St. George LDS temples, as well as many other auxiliary and leadership roles in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Ira was extremely good at counting ribs, collecting spare change, a clear holdover from this bar-singing days, and comparing the price of gas, toilet paper, and Pepsi across the country. He enjoyed a good melody, a good hamburger and a good laugh. He loved traveling and the open road and, with Ricki, visited more than 30 countries over the course of their life together. He could not dance, garden, or fix anything, and he was the only man in St. George whose printer never worked. His Esperanto name is “Man with Ten Thumbs.” His personal heroes were Sen. Lester Hunt, Lou Gehrig, David O. McKay and John F. Kennedy. He will be remembered for his love of baseball, the Washington Redskins, westerns, the beach, and pie, both hot and cold. His family was his greatest legacy. So, Dad, we say to you, “hasta la cha-cha” and “cuanto mon gusta.”
- There will be a viewing Monday, Feb. 6, from 5-7 p.m. at Spilsbury Mortuary, 110 S. Bluff, St. George, Utah.
- Funeral services will be held Tuesday, Feb. 7, at 11 a.m. at the LDS Chapel on 550 E. 700 South in St. George.
- Burial will follow at the Tonaquint Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Institute for Continued Learning at Dixie State University.
The Whitlock family would also like to express gratitude to Ashley Yardley and Nichole Lamb of Dixie Hospice for their compassionate care.