GREENVILLE—Tom Whitton, Greenville’s city service director from 1985-90, was honored at an early 99th birthday party Monday night at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post in Greenville.
Whitton, whose actual birthday is Sept. 10, was the guest of honor at the party hosted by the Fort GreeneVille chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and by Larry and Carol McLear.
Friends and well-wishers gathered to help him celebrate and partake in refreshments, including a cake, baked by Chris Nehring of the DAR.
Another person who showed up and made himself known was Byron Davis, of the Pitsburg/Arcanum area, who turned 99 at the end of May and is also a World War II veteran. He saw the announcement of the party and wanted to come meet the honoree.
Jerry Wright, who will be 82 on Oct. 30, attended the event and shared some memories with Whitton. Wright was fire chief of the city when Whitton was service director.
“I remember one time when he (Whitton) was in trouble with the council,” Wright said.
“I didn’t know Jerry until I got to be service director and we got to know each other pretty well.”
Whitton is the father of three children, Connie of Orlando, Fla., Tom of Vandalia and Greg of Waynesville He has three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
“I went through a divorce in 1970 and stayed single,” he said. “I had a friend in Greenville and came to Greenville in 1971. That’s what I did.”
He had friends, however, in Betty Hunt and Velma Lowder.
Whitton served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1942-46 in the Pacific Theatre and ended up in Japan. He is a member of the Greenville VFW, American Legion, the Masons and Shrine.
“I drove the Shrine Hospital van to Lexington,” said Whitton, who said he was with a Boy Scout troop in Englewood.
Whitton, who still drives, said he lives alone and does his own cooking.
He was a woodcarver in Florida and belonged to a woodcarving club down there when he spent winters there.
“I still do some carving,” he said.
He served as service director under the leadership of Mayor Jack Harless.
“I worked at NCR for 30 years before I came to Greenville, and I worked for a consulting company (Trouble Shooting Manufacturing) in Dayton,” he said.
“When I got out of the service, I took advantage of the GI Bill and went to school and got a job as a tool engineer.
Whitton said his health is fine and when asked why he’s lived so long, he replied, “I didn’t smoke and I had an occasional beer and high ball.”