Larry Whitfield, a beloved father, co-worker and friend, passed away April 1, 2021. A resident of Athens, Ga., he was 83 years old.
Visitation will be held April 7 at 10 a.m. with funeral services starting at 11 a.m. at Lord and Stephens West, located at 1211 Jimmy Daniel Road, located in Watkinsville, Georgia 30677.
Larry Whitfield was born April 9, 1937 in Gainesville, Georgia. The only child of Adger Madison Whitfield and Lucille Wardlaw Whitfield, Larry grew up in Gainesville in an era when neighbors knew each other better. His father owned a clothing store located on the town square where Larry worked as a boy and Larry was often seen riding around town on his bicycle visiting his father’s customers. With what little spare time Larry and his father had, they would go fishing. Larry also enjoyed runs in the neighborhood woods with his dog Bugaboo.
Larry enjoyed photography as a teenager and became the primary photographer and compiled nearly all the photos for “The Radiator,” the Gainesville High school annual. He graduated from Gainesville High School in 1955 and remained close with many of his classmates throughout his entire life. Following graduation, Larry attended the University of Georgia and earned a degree BBA in General Business in 1959. He met his first wife Anne Sims at UGA and they would become the parents of Stephen and Susan. In 1975, he married his second wife Susan Eichberg. Shortly afterwards, they welcomed Jeffery and Christina into the world.
When Larry entered the workforce, his first jobs were in restaurant management. Larry managed the Davis Brothers Cafeteria in Athens, Georgia before moving to Atlanta, Georgia to manage cafeterias at the Lucky Street and Cross Keys locations. While managing the locations, Larry had a birds’ eye view of the Civil Rights movement in the early 1960s. The cafeteria on Lucky Street was among the earliest integrated in the city and Larry recalled an afternoon when a group of local civil rights first ate there.
Larry began his General Motors career on July 23, 1964 at the Lakewood Assembly Plant in Atlanta, Georgia. Among his first duties was overseeing the “suggestion box,” a container whereby employees could offer their opinions for improving plant operations. Larry successfully climbed the company ladder and became head of the plant’s benefits department where he oversaw pensions, workers compensation and insurance. The Lakewood Plant closed in 1990, but Larry remained another year to formally shut down the plant. He retired with 27 years of service in August 1991.
Following retirement, Larry joined the Lakewood Salaried Retirees’ Club, a group of retirees who worked at the Lakewood plant. He eventually became secretary of the club and relished the work of keeping retirees connected with numerous emails, phone calls, photographs, quarterly luncheons and the Lakewood Voice, a quarterly newsletter he penned with the help of fellow retirees.
With a warm smile and a deep laugh, Larry enjoyed spending time with his children. He loved getting outdoors and working in the yard. As his father Adger also did, Larry performed magic shows for children and he especially enjoyed doing gigs for his son Stephen’s little league baseball team of which he was also a coach. Larry was a devoted husband and cared for his wife Susan at home until her death in 1993. Among the trips he most loved, Larry recalled going with fellow GM co-workers to Las Vegas, Nevada and driving across Death Valley; skiing in the Rocky Mountains near Steamboat Springs, Colorado; and taking family vacations to SeaWorld, Disney World and Epcot in Orlando, Florida. Larry was a great cook and spent afternoons showing his son Jeffery how to prepare everything from fried chicken to baked bread and imparted to him a love of photography.
Larry was predeceased by his parents Adger and Lucille Whitfield and his wife Susan Whitfield. He is survived by Stephen Whitfield, of Duluth, Ga., Susan Randall, of Easley, S.C., Jeffery Whitfield, of Athens, Ga., and Christina Whitfield, of Athens, Ga; and four grandchildren, Crystal Randall, Megan Lopez, Drew Randall and Maxwell Pritchett.
Lord and Stephens Funeral Home, WEST, Watkinsville, GA is in charge of arrangements. www.lordandstephens.com
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