Walt was born on October 15, 1947 in Evansville, Indiana, the oldest of three children born to Raymond and Earlena Whitehead. His sister, Mary, was born five years later, and his brother, Charles, ten years later. His family moved to Riverside when he was about 12. He graduated from Ramona High in 1965. After high school, he worked as a grip for American Broadcasting Corporation on the sets of various variety shows and game shows and met hundreds of celebrities. His favorites were Jackie Joseph (wife of Ken Berry), Don Rickles and Jimmy Durante. He loved to share his stories of those days. He always smiled when he talked about a very young Michael Jackson and his love for powdered sugar donuts. Walt loved music, especially Dean Martin, Elvis Presley, the Rolling Stones, Willie Nelson, and Bob Dylan. He served two years in the Army and later attended Riverside Community College earning an A.A. degree in Hospitality. He joined his father in commercial construction and later started his own company. In the 1990s he went back to college to be a travel agent. He worked in the travel and hospitality industry until he retired. He met his wife, Delaine Porter Whitehead, in 1978. It was a blind date they had arranged for themselves. Their first date was on November 24, 1978. In February 2012 Walt was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, so in 2013 Delaine and Walt took early retirement to enjoy life while there was time. At that time, in preparation for the inevitable, he chose to become a Catholic. Walt’s remaining years were active. He always wanted to be useful, so he had many “chores” around the house. He was always sweeping. He enjoyed annual passes to the local amusement parks, trips to the Santa Ana Zoo, to Woody’s with his nephew, Travis, to Los Angeles with his Second Harvest friends, and to the Wedge in Newport to watch the waves. He also spent a great deal of time with both his and Delaine’s families and with many friends, old and new. He loved to participate in activities at the center at Alzheimer’s Orange County, especially the music. He died peacefully at home with Delaine and Nancy, his sister-in-law, on each side. His last words to Delaine were that he loved her. We thank the staff and volunteers at Alzheimer’s Orange County, the Long Beach Veterans’ Hospital, the Alzheimer’s Family Services in Huntington Beach, Healthy at Home, and Providence Trinity Hospice for making the last part of his journey more bearable.
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