Edward Wayne Whitmore, 98, of Curtis, Nebraska, died January 6, 2021 at Great Plains Health.
He was born September 24, 1922, the second son of Charles and Cora Whitmore, at the family home in Moorefield, NE. Ed and his brother, Chas, were raised in Moorefield. They were usually seen playing baseball or basketball or listening to the Yankees and other teams playing while being broadcast over their neighbor’s, Paul Jurgens, radio. Ed’s mother was diligent in seeing that her boys went to Sunday School at the Union Church in Moorefield. Ed attended Moorefield Grade School and High School, graduating in May 1940. When he was a senior his basketball team went to State. He felt it was a great honor to be a part of that team.
After graduation Ed worked at Arent’s Grocery Store in Stockville until he had enough money saved so he could join his brother in California to look for better jobs and opportunities. Soon after, on December 10, 1943, Ed was drafted into the United States Army and his brother, Chas, the United States Air Force.
Aboard the ship “AQUITANIA” destination, European Theater, they were originally sent to Africa but within days rerouted to Italy. Ed spent most of his time in the trenches in Italy and France. It was a bitter cold winter night while near Alsace-Lorraine, Ed froze his feet and was taken to a hospital in France. When he thought he had been in the hospital long enough he got dressed and walked out along with another soldier. Eventually, they took him to meet up with his unit and later as they were trying to cross the Rhine River they were met by such fierce enemy fire they didn’t think they would survive, but miraculously some of them did. Some time later they came in behind a brand new, young, less experienced unit that was experiencing many casualties, but with the help of Ed’s unit they were able to take care of those Germans.
Just before the war ended they were in Germany but had backed out into France to join another unit. It was pitch dark and snowing when an officer came to get Ed. Some guys from the other unit they had just joined were lost. He told Ed to go one way and he would go the other way to help find them. Ed was the one who found them and brought them safely back. They wanted him to delay a bit so he could receive a medal earned for this action but Ed said, “No”, he wanted to go home.
He spoke of the enormous and unexplainable emotional feelings of coming home and seeing the Statue of Liberty come into view. All the soldiers came to one side of the ship to see it and the ship almost tipped over.
After returning home Ed and Chas never talked about the war and their experiences. It was too painful. Chas’ plane was shot down over the Pacific Ocean and he along with 7 others spent 18 1/2 days in two life rafts without much food or water. When they were finally rescued one of their comrades had succumbed to the elements. Their parents had already been notified they were missing in action. Ed had also lost buddies and seen and endured so much. Ed said his mother’s prayers were what brought them home safely.
Home at last! Ed got a job with Civil Service but it was a “desk job” and he didn’t enjoy it. He quit, got some greyhounds and started racing them. Ed met the love of his life, Peggy Ellen Wallace and they were married December 23, 1966 in Las Vegas. Together they cared for the dogs and raced them in every state along the west coast and into Mexico and also Tucson, AZ where they lived by that time. He was offered and accepted a job with the state of West Virginia and soon became the State Presiding Judge for their dog races. He held that position until his retirement. While living in Wheeling, West Virginia, they also bought houses and refurbished them to rent and sell.
Ed and Peggy decided to come to Nebraska, and bought a home in Curtis to enjoy their final years. Ed loved sports especially football, baseball and basketball. He was an avid Husker fan! If Nebraska football was on TV he would watch it even if it was a rerun he had seen multiple times.
He was a member of the Congregational Church in Curtis, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion.
Survivors include special friends, Kathy Hansen and Brian and Clover Nicklas and boys, Mary Ann (Hosick) Adams and Laura Lee (Hosick) O’Connell along with care providers Kasi Pederson and sons, Gage and Tyler Cappa, Aspen Martinez and Kat Jorgensen.
Edward was preceded in death by his wife, Peggy, his parents, Charles and Cora, brother Chas, good friend Harley Hansen and his Moorefield High School Buddies
Visitation will be held at Blase-Wetzel-Strauser Memorial Chapel, Curtis, Nebraska; Monday, January 11, 2021, 3:00 - 6:00 pm.
Services will be held at Berean Bible Church, January 12, 2021 at 10:30 am with Pastor Brian Nicklas officiating.
Burial will follow in the Moorefield Cemetery, Moorefield, Nebraska.
Memorials may be given to the Berean Bible Church, 512 Prentiss, Curtis, NE 69025.