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G.T. ‘Tivis’ Whitley

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August 24, 2011 | 3,742 views | Offer condolences


G.T. “Tivis” Whitley, 91, of Gatesville, Texas, passed away on Monday, Aug. 15, 2011, in Floresville. He was born Nov. 18, 1919, in Hurst Springs, one of nine children born to Samuel Payne and Elizabeth Hollingsworth Whitley.

He grew up in the Turnersville area, and, as a member of a hardworking farm family, developed a work ethic equaled by few. Tivis received his education at Hurst Springs, Turnersville, Gatesville, and finally North Texas State College in Denton. He married Ruth Maxwell of Arnett on May 14, 1940, and they enjoyed 69 years of marriage, ending in her death on Aug. 2, 2009.

Tivis enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force on Oct. 26, 1942, and was discharged Jan. 25, 1946, after serving 39 months. He and Ruth were stationed in Waco at Blackland Air Force Base, Foster Field in Victoria, Liberal Air Base in Liberal, Kan., and Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio, and he was honorably discharged with the rank of sergeant at Camp Shelby, Miss.

The great majority of his service time was spent teaching and training cadets and officers instrument flying to be future pilots. He was denied three requests for overseas action because his efforts here in training pilots were considered more valuable for the war effort. After his discharge, he and Ruth moved back to their home in Arnett, where he was active in farming and ranching. He retired from the defense contracting plant at McGregor after 29 years of service. His unequalled work ethic, brilliant mechanical creativity, and sterling character served him well and were a witness to many. He truly “thought outside the box.” Tivis had an idea and a solution for any need, a tool to do it with at all times, and an opinion he was willing to share. He was truly a member of “the greatest generation,” and he just graduated with honors.

Tivis was a wonderful husband, father, father-in-law, grandfather (Papa), great-grandfather (Great Papa), and a friend to all. He was a man of faith, and that faith grew and blossomed throughout the years, especially in the latter years. He realized more than anything else that the only lasting thing is a full commitment and surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ. Without that, nothing else really matters. Like all his tools, his Bibles show the wear of use, but no dust. He and Ruth were members of the Gatesville First Baptist Church and the Faith Sunday School class. They also enjoyed being members of the Gatesville RV Club.

Tivis also was preceded in death by a brother, Douglas Whitley; and his sisters, Doris Chaffin, Geraldine Hitt, and Grace Joslyn.

He is survived by his son, Robert A. “Bob” Whitley and wife Judy of Floresville; his granddaughter, Carolyn Ham and husband Brian, and his great-granddaughters, Mia Denise and Sara Beth Ham, all stationed in Fort Campbell, Ky.; his brothers, Troy Whitley of Speegleville and Hoyte Whitley and wife Martha of Eustis, Fla.; and his sisters, Patty Courtney and husband Moody of Jonesboro and Fay Howard of Jacksonville, Fla.

The family wishes to especially thank Dr. J.D. Sheffield and the nurses and staff at Coryell Memorial Hospital for the compassionate care in the last days; the nurses and staff at the Frank M. Tejeda Texas State Veterans Home; and their friends and relatives, too many to name, for the unending prayer, calls, visits, flowers, and expressions of concern. We will never forget, said his family.

A funeral service was held on Friday, Aug. 19, at 10 a.m. in the First Baptist Church of Gatesville with Dr. Steve Dominy officiating.

The family received visitors following the service in the church parlor.

A private family interment followed in the Gatesville City Cemetery in Gatesville.

Memorials may be made to the First Baptist Church, 912 E. Main St., Gatesville, TX 76528.

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