William "Gerry" Whitley

May 9, 1944 ~ November 11, 2020

Gerry Whitley passed away peacefully on November 11, 2020 with his wife, Mary, at his side.  He had been under the care of the dedicated staff at Whistle Bend Place since April. 

Born May 9, 1944 in Vancouver, BC and raised, along with his three younger siblings in Trail, B.C., Gerry Whitley fell in love with the Yukon in the 60’s.  He shared this love with his wife, Mary, and their two daughters, Moriah and Rebecca, living first in Faro and then in Whitehorse.

 While in Faro he worked as an assayer at the laboratory at Cyprus Anvil.  In Whitehorse he worked for the Feds in their INAC department being responsible for water licenses. Later he was to become a fierce environmentalist, supporting programs by being an eye in the sky in his trusty Cessna 172 CFXJJ.  He monitored the work of oil and gas exploration near Eagle Plains, as well as in SE Yukon. He did wetland surveys north of Watson Lake, followed otter tracks in the snow near Haunka Creek, and documented the changing hues of the downvalley ponds near the former Faro mine site. Every spring he flew ice surveys in M’Clintock bay documenting the dramatic changes.

For several years he was a coach and competitor at Biathlon. It was not unusual for him to be up all night grooming the trails and show up for the race the next day. 

Most recently his interests took him star gazing on cold winter nights. He monitored natural radiation levels across the Yukon and across the country on a trip in 2019.  Also on that trip he and Mary viewed spectacular bird migration advancing across the prairies as well as the surge of birds across Lake Erie to arrive at Pt. Pelee on his birthday. 

He taught his daughters to analyze what they heard and read.  They learned basic and not so basic car and truck repairs from him as well as canoeing skills.  He lovingly cared for them on our many canoe and boat trips.

Recent interest in a lost American military aircraft from 1950 was sparked by Gerry. The story is becoming a documentary movie at this time, Skymaster Down.

A friend to all and beloved by many, Gerry was known for his passion and contributions to science, the environment, air search and rescue, and sport. 

A Celebration of Life will be announced at a later date.

 

9 Comments

  1. Muguette Laflamme

    Oh, dearest Mary, my sincere condolences. May your fond memories carry you through these difficult times.

    Sending you much love and strength,

    Muguette

    Reply
  2. IAN D. ROBERTSON

    Gerry always had a smile and twinkle in his eye every time you saw him – always wanting to learn something new and read for the next adventure. He was a committed and respected conservationist with many interests as well as being an active member of CASARA Yukon, the volunteer air search and rescue association where I got know him and enjoy his company in CF-XJJ. As he leaves on his new celestial adventure his contribution to this world including family and friends will not be forgotten. I will remember him as a man that made a positive difference in the world we live in. Fly with the angels my friend.

    Reply
  3. Erin

    Mary, Rebecca and Moriah: sincere condolences. I’ll always remember his warm smile, enthusiasm and caring nature. He will be missed and he did make a difference. Thinking of you all. Peace.

    Reply
  4. Greg Bedinger

    I never met Gerry in person but we talked on the phone and exchanged many emails over several years, talking about using airplanes for environmental truthing and supporting the many conservation issues that were dear to him. He was instrumental in representing LightHawk, the conservation/aviation organization that I worked for at the time we met, and since my retirement in 2016 we connected less often. He passed on his experience with airborne camera systems to other pilots and encouraged us to strengthen our own commitment to sharing what we saw while in the air. He will be remembered by all of us, for his many and varied contributions to making the world a better place.

    Reply
  5. Tony Polyck

    I worked with Gerry for many years in Water management and he was always an optimist and had a smile on his face all the time. He did a lot for Yukon and I am sure he will be missed by many. RIP.

    Reply
  6. Mary (Allen) Blahitka

    Recently reconnected with Gerry & Mary through CASARA’s trip out to Kluane in search of old crash sites where they camped near CYDB. I first met Gerry when he worked at Water Resources across from Land Use many years ago. So sorry to hear of his passing. Much love to Mary & family.

    Reply
  7. Ron and Norma Hoeppner

    Dear Mary, Rebecca and Moriah, our deepest sympathy to you in the loss of Gerry. We were fortunate enough to be your neighbours and enjoyed our visits with you whenever we walked past your home. Gerry was a loyal friend and neighbour and he will be missed by all, but most of all by his family. Much love and prayers to you, Mary and family.

    Reply
  8. Cliff Williams

    Dear Mary, Rebecca and Mariah, my condolences for your loss. I was really impressed with Gerry and enjoyed working with him and really appreciated his leadership in starting up the Water Quality monitoring section of the Water Resources Department and his commitment to carrying out inspections. I respected and appreciated his dedication to his work and his personal passions especially his family. He was a wonderful, remarkable compassionate person. I was not surprised to read about his many adventures in life. I am sure you miss him dearly.

    My wife Donna passed away in 2015. We had travelled a lot since leaving the Yukon in 1976 including working in Africa twice and eventually working in the US ending up in Washington State for a Canadian Firm. Along the way, Donna became an ordained minister in the Lutheran Church. Don MacVicar forwarded the notice to me. They are living in North Saanich, just across the water from us.

    Reply
  9. Ted Fuller

    So sorry to hear about Gerry. I just found out this morning (Mar 16/21). I met Gerry in 1983 in Whitehorse at his Water Management office while looking for information about my proposed Master’s thesis on the Yukon River. Later, in the 1990’s, I moved to Whitehorse for about five years, Gerry took me lake kayaking, which was great. I met Rebecca in Victoria where we both worked for BC government and rode motorcycles! Condolencs to you, Mary.

    Ted Fuller, Victoria

    Reply

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