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Obituary: Michael Peter Whalen

Beloved son, brother, friend, enthusiastic sports fan, traveler

Mike Whalen, who died February 26, retained his upbeat personality and wry sense of humor throughout his entire 62 years. A gifted baseball and soccer player in the 1978 Pomona High School graduating class, he planned to study at the Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara after Mt. San Antonio College. Along with his parents, he was a lifelong member of Christ the Victor Lutheran Church in Pomona and eventually Rock of the Foothills Lutheran Church in La Verne.

Born February 13, 1960, the course of his life — and that of his family — was permanently altered one night in 1978 when he was shot by a stray bullet while driving home. Suffering a traumatic brain injury, he was left with partial sight and epilepsy. He rehabilitated at Casa Colina in Pomona before returning home to the care of his parents, William and Marianne Whalen, until 2005, after which he lived with Chris Matheny and her family in Upland and Rancho Cucamonga, until he suffered a severe stroke in the summer of 2017. After Bill and Marianne’s deaths in 1999 and 2007, respectively, his brother Tim assumed responsibility for his care and ensured that he stayed as active and engaged as possible.

Throughout his 44 years of severe disability, he never lost his sense of humor or his interest in athletics, outdoor adventures and the music of James Taylor and Jackson Browne. He remained a baseball expert, spouting Little League World Series and other stats, and a devoted Angels fan until he moved to Santa Monica in 2020 to be closer to his brother, at which point he reluctantly shifted his allegiance to the Dodgers.

Through the remarkable Outdoor Adventures Program at Casa Colina, his brother made sure he was able to participate in a wide variety of activities and trips. Always up for an outing, he kayaked in the San Juan islands and went whitewater rafting, skiing, deep-sea fishing, and even sky diving. He took multiple trips to Catalina and Big Bear, visited the Grand Canyon and saw a dog sledding event in Quebec, Canada. After his father’s death, he and his mother cruised the St.  Lawrence River; he, his brother, Chris Matheny, and her son Kevin Kanoor also took a memorable trip to Las Vegas to celebrate his 60th birthday.

His brother Tim wishes to acknowledge and thank the many family and church friends, especially Jan and Bruce Paulson and their family, who were there for his parents and brother since the night of his injury, and over the subsequent four decades. Everyone’s unwavering support and love were a constant source of reassurance.

Michael Peter Whalen is survived by his brother, Timothy, of Santa Monica.

A funeral service will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday, March 9 at Rock of the Foothills Lutheran Church, 4630 Wheeler Ave., La Verne, CA 91750. A gravesite internment service will take place at 10 a.m. Friday, March 11 at Pomona Cemetery, 502 E. Franklin Ave., Pomona, CA 91766.

Donations in his memory may be made to the Outdoor Adventures Program at Casa Colina at https://www.casacolina.org/giving-support/.

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