Velma Jean “Jean” Whittle, 89, passed away peacefully on January 20, 2023, among family at the St Marys Manor. She was born in Inman, KS, on March 24, 1933, to Nicholas and Elizabeth Schmidt.
Jean was the eighth child of ten born into her family and they were all raised on a farm near Inman that was settled by her paternal grandparents who emigrated from south Russia, now known as Ukraine. Jean attended grade and high school in Inman, KS and attended Bethel College in Newton. While in college and working as a receptionist at Bethel Clinic she met her husband, Gary Whittle. They were married in Sedgwick, KS on August 17, 1956. Gary passed away May 16, 1994. His career was in agri-business and the family lived in Sedgwick, Inman, Buhler, Emporia, Emmett, and since 1968 in St. Marys, KS.
Jean had a wonderful work ethic and was one of those people that always seemed to be in a good mood. She was employed as a medical receptionist for 47 years retiring at the age of 80. Her success was a result of her sincere empathy for others and always making the patient feel better about their circumstances when they came to the doctor’s office. She worked for Drs. Morgan Ryan & Garcia in Emporia, KS from 1965 to 1967; Dr. Fred E. Brown, M.D. in St. Marys, KS from 1968 to 1988; and Dr. Verne Claussen, O.D. in St. Marys from 1989 to 2012.
Jean was an active member of the St. Marys United Methodist Church and led their annual quilt ticket effort for over 25 years. With her pleasant smile and outgoing personality, Jean was a natural for this! She was a Cub Scout Leader, Girl Scout Leader, and room mother while her children were young. She never missed their school activities.
Jean was always having fun and loved to entertain. She and Gary hosted many cookouts in their yard and enjoyed playing cards. She was a life-long Rook player and played bridge her entire adult life. After retirement she enjoyed playing bridge and dominoes at the Senior Center and had time for pitch games with the grandchildren.
Jean is survived by two children: Jeanine Lake of St. Marys, KS and Max Whittle (Angela) of Wichita, KS. Three grandchildren: Jennifer Lockhart (Phil) of Seneca, KS, Vanessa Vail (Mark) of Wichita, KS, and Scott Whittle of Olathe, KS. Five great grandchildren: Dayton Nelson, Spencer Lockhart, Christina Vail, Juliette Vail, and Amy Vail. Jean is also survived by a brother, Robert Schmidt of Centennial, CO and a sister, Irene Dunn of Lewiston, ID. She was preceded in death by her parents and six siblings: Victor Schmidt, Lila Willems, Elmer Schmidt, Helen Ediger, Elda Yoder, Nick Schmidt, and Rosalie Schmidt.
Jean will lie in state and the family will receive friends at Piper Funeral Home, Sunday, January 22, from 4:30 – 6:00. Funeral services will be at the St. Marys United Methodist Church, Monday, January 23, at 10:30, with interment to follow at Valley View Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to the St. Marys United Methodist Church and sent in care of Piper Funeral Home, 714 Maple Street, St. Marys, KS 66536.
You are my sunshine,
My only sunshine.
You make me happy
When skies are gray.
You’ll never know dear
How much I love you.
Please don’t take
My sunshine away.