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John R. Whitefield

  • On October 24, 2021

John R. Whitefield from Clinton, PA, raised in Monongahela, PA, passed away suddenly on Saturday, October 16, 2021. He was 91 years young, witty and entertaining, and a retired teacher from Montour High School. He loved jazz and big band music, played the trombone, and was a band leader as a young man. He was honorably discharged from the Air Force, attended Washington and Jefferson College, earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Penn State University, attended seminary school, and ultimately found his calling as a high school educator and drama director. He had a flair for the theatrics and directed many musicals and plays including South Pacific, Oklahoma!, My Fair Lady, and The Skin of Our Teeth! He was president of the teacher’s union, an activist for social justice causes, and an advocate for women’s rights. He was passionate about helping others see the injustices in our social systems, but also an ardent listener with an impressive emotional IQ, always willing to learn from the perspectives of others.

John was known for his competitive generosity (“I got the check!”), his philosophy to arrive at gatherings using your free elbow to ring the doorbell, his accommodating nature, his tendency to purposefully over tip and overpay for services, and his enjoyment of a good, lively debate. He loved long conversations with his wife and family members; listening to his wife play the piano while they sang together; taking the “tools” and golfing with his late brother (William H. Whitefield), his son, his grandson, and his sons-in-law; taking his grandson to karate lessons; taking his grandsons to swimming lessons, cheering on his granddaughter at her softball games; listening to and supporting his grandsons’ budding clarinet and piano talents; and lovingly supporting his children’s/grandchildren’s interests in child rearing, child psychology, landscaping, karaoke, choral singing, and more.

John was and remains so very very loved, and he is survived by his beloved wife, Virginia M.; his children Jennifer L. Dye (Robert G.), Heather A. Potts (Stephen M.), and John C. Whitefield; his grandchildren Robert A. Dye (Miyeon), Ryan D. Dye, Kalina N. Potts, Tristan M. Potts, and Tyler J. Potts; and many nieces and nephews.

There will be no funeral, though a memorial service may be arranged at a future date. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Doctors Without Borders (www.doctorswithoutborders.org), Free Speech TV (freespeech.org), or the Thomas Merton Center (thomasmertoncenter.org). Please view and sign the family’s online guestbook at www.PittsburghCremation.com


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Victoria Ciaramella
Mr. Whitefield was one of my absolute favorite teachers and his class was one I so looked forward! Funny, intelligent, knowledgeable, compassionate; I hung on every word and enjoyed every sly smile he shared! He was an amazing educator! May he rest peacefully…
Kendra McLaughlin
I am an actress today because Mr. Whitefield had been my drama teacher. He affected my life deeply. He was a spark; a kind, caring, creative person who I was blessed to know. May he rest in peace. With eternal gratitude, Kendra McLaughlin
Bob Rumba
I would come to a memorial service for Jay if you decide to have one. I would be glad to speak a few words and pray on his behalf. Blessings and prayers for friends and family for a quick healing.