With his family present, John Wayne Whitsell passed away on December 15, 2022.
John was born in McKinney, Texas, on February 2, 1948. He grew up with his parents and five siblings on a humble farm near Frisco, Texas. His family’s hand-to-mouth life on the farm was filled with dawn-to-dusk hard work. But the Whitsell family never missed the opportunity to pitch a game of washers, take a trip to nearby Lake Lewisville, or enjoy a fish fry with friends. Rural life shaped John’s selfless, loving, and “Whitsell-humor” personality.
John graduated from Frisco High School in 1966. At FHS, he played basketball and was a standout baseball and football player, achieving all-district as a lineman. After high school, John graduated with a bachelor’s degree from North Texas State University (now the University of North Texas).
John married the love of his life, Sunny (Susie) Harris, on Thanksgiving Day in 1971. The couple had one child, Jeff, and the three made many enduring memories. In the early 1980s, John moved his family to West Texas. He worked as an oilfield salesman and manager in the Permian Basin for over 30 years. His customers and co-workers recognized John’s honesty and love for people; many became life-long friends.
John’s lessons from the farm never left him; he worked long hours but never missed the opportunity to enjoy life with friends and family while grilling, playing games, and telling stories. Friends with a broken-down car or a home repair project could count on John’s help, arriving with his tools to help and steaks to cook when they’d finished the job. And there were more than a few occasions when John “accidentally” bought too much food, which he shared with a friend short on cash.
John loved the outdoors and was an avid hunter, fisherman, and golfer. His favorite stories were about Colorado hunting trips, fishing for crappie, and his latest round on the links. His favorite movie was Jeremiah Johnson, a story of a man who leaves the craziness of the modern world for the wild Colorado mountains. A dialogue from the film epitomizes John’s life—”Great hunter, yes? Yes. Fine figure of a man, yes? Yes.”
John is preceded in death by his parents, “Potts” and Stacia; his sister, Midge, and brother, “Bub.” He is survived by his wife of 51 years, Sunny (Susie); his son, Jeff; his brothers, Al and Gary; his grandchildren, Tyler, Aly, and Raimey; and numerous cousins, nephews, and nieces.
A celebration of John’s life will be held at a date to be determined. The family requests that memorial donations be made to the Alzheimer’s Association.