Richard Boly Whitham: Dedicated teacher and coach

Dedicated teacher and coach, true-blue Dodger fan

Richard Boly Whitham died comfortably on Wednesday, January 28, 2015 in Claremont after a short illness. He was 80. 

He was a very humble man who loved his church, his family, his duplicate bridge, his German shepherd dogs, his sports and his Dodgers.

He was born in 1934 in Pomona to John Leroy Whitham and Sylvia Caroline Whitham. His parents had four sons, with “Rick” being the youngest after John, Charles and Paul. The four boys were very close in age—only five years separated their ages—and were always active in sports, pushing each other to compete at their optimum level.

Rick attended Claremont High School, graduating in 1952. He excelled in football and basketball, earning numerous honors. He attended Chaffey Junior College in Ontario for one year before moving on to Fresno State University. He graduated from Fresno State in 1956 and received his master’s degree from Azusa Pacific University.

He married Leilah Ann Herold in 1961 and had three children, Richard Aaron in 1962, Sean Adam in 1963 and Aimee Lee in 1969. The family lived in Pomona until 1963, when they moved to Claremont. They divorced in 1972.

Mr. Whitham worked as a teacher after graduating college. He also coached multiple youth football, track and basketball teams during his teaching career. His longest tenure of teaching was at El Roble Intermediate School, where he taught upper division math classes. In all, he taught for 36 years, 27 of those at El Roble. He retired on his 60th birthday in 1994. He also helped make the streets of Claremont and southern California safer by teaching driver’s education for Claremont High School.

In 1972, Rick met Dorothy Lois Peck of North Platte, Nebraska. They married in 1974 in Claremont and have lived there since. In their 40 years together, the two have been obedient servants of the Claremont Presbyterian Church, attending services every week.  Mr. Whitham was a charter member of the church. He also volunteered his time at the church as an usher most Sundays, and as an elder. With his strong mathematic mind, he also helped to process the tithes and bookkeeping in the church office for a number of years.

Rick and Dorothy enjoyed traveling together to Dana Point, California regularly, a special spot for both of them. They also enjoyed a number of weeklong beach vacations with the families of their sons in Oceanside, California, which they undertook every other year.

Mr. Whitham was an animal lover, cherishing family pets throughout most of his life. His special love was German shepherd dogs. He loved and cared for his shepherds by working them regularly each day with jogs and walks, and feeding them heartily. 

Rick became a bridge-playing expert in his middle and later life. He played competitively each week at the La Fetra Center in Glendora, California, where he excelled and reached the Life Master and Bronze Life Master of duplicate bridge in 2003. He and Dorothy also enjoyed weekly bridge groups with friends and family.

Mr. Whitham has three children and six grandchildren and was always very supportive in all of their artistic and athletic activities. He could often be seen watching his kids or grandkids at baseball diamonds, basketball gymnasia and football, soccer and track fields, always offering a helpful tip after each game.

Since sports played a large role in his life, he had two teams that he was very close to: the Claremont High School varsity football team and the Los Angeles Dodgers. During high school football season, Mr. Whitham would go to every CHS game, whether it was a home game or at another faraway high school. He had good friends who would often join him at these games. It was a Friday night ritual. Being able to enjoy watching his son Adam participate, and excel, in this ritual for a few years made it even sweeter.

Rick was a true-blue Dodger fan. He was always asking for their results and wanted to discuss their play and clubhouse moves with anyone who was interested. He would take his family to Dodger games each year. He loved being out in the sun, watching the Dodgers and eating Dodger Dogs.

He is survived by his wife of 40 years, Dorothy; his brother Charles; his three children, Aaron (Susie Brinkama), Adam (Leslie) and Aimee Tracy; and six grandchildren, Katja, Jake, Delana, Addison, Ben and Taylor.

Services will be held on Saturday, February 14 at 10:30 a.m. at the Claremont Presbyterian Church, located 1111 N. Mountain Ave. in Claremont.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Claremont Presbyterian Church or to the City of Claremont Community Senior Services Enrichment Program.

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