- March 4, 1939 - December 21, 2012
- Magnolia, Arkansas
of Sonny's Passing
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Memories & CandlesPrevious
“My deepest sympathies' go out the Wittington family at this time of their sorrow. Coach Wittington was a definite positive influence in my life and...Read More »
1 of 44 | Posted by: Dan Vela - Houston, TX
“I worked for Sonny as an admissions counselor in 1997-1998. He was truly one of the most wonderful people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. He...Read More »
2 of 44 | Posted by: Amy Cheatham Basinger
“I'm so sorry for your loss. My late husband, Bobby Joe White, and Sonny grew up together, played high school football and remained life long friends...Read More »
3 of 44 | Posted by: Gloria White - Hensley, AR
“My thoughts are with you at this time.
4 of 44 | Posted by: James R. "Bub" Johnson - Hanford
“prayers with the family,he will be greatly missed! classmembers have stayed close.prayers with all....
5 of 44 | Posted by: mamie wortman - sheridan, AR
“Fond memories of getting "schooled" by coach Wittington in Badminton Skills class. He would spot us ten points and still beat us. Good days! ...Read More »
6 of 44 | Posted by: William Holder - Springfield, MO
“We are going to miss all of the tall fishing stories that Sonny and my Dad would tell! He will be greatly missed.
7 of 44 | Posted by: Annette and Larry Davis - AR
“When setting up my tribute, it showed the wrong city. I am from Fouke, Arkansas.
8 of 44 | Posted by: Kelli Eaves Barnett - Fouke, AR
“Mr. Whittington hired me for the fall of 1987 to work as a student worker in the admissions office while I worked @ Texarkana College under Steve...Read More »
9 of 44 | Posted by: Kelli Eaves Barnett - Fluke, AR
“Sonny was related to me by marriage but still stayed my cousin after he and Jane divorced! A very special man and I will miss him! Love to his...Read More »
10 of 44 | Posted by: Kathy McGuffin - Gilmer, TX
“So sorry for your loss. He will always be remembered as a great friend to my family.
11 of 44 | Posted by: Betty Burchfield - McNeil, AR
“Dear Sherry, Whitney and Family: We are so sorry for your loss. You are in our prayers. May God comfort you as only he can. Mr. Sonny was such an...Read More »
12 of 44 | Posted by: Terri Story - Magnolia, AR
“Sincere condolences to the Whittington family.
13 of 44 | Posted by: Jerry Thomas - Coworker
“I know Sonny and I jokingly argued about who beat who but i loved every minute of playing and arguing! I did win tennis and that quail hunting was...Read More »
14 of 44 | Posted by: Jane
“I can only imagine the pain you feel at the loss of Sonny. My heart breaks for you all. I must smile when I think of the joyous reunion taking...Read More »
15 of 44 | Posted by: Debbie Casey Quarles - Friend
“Your family is in our thoughts and prayers.
Candy & Rusty Adams
16 of 44 | Posted by: Candy Adams - Magnolia
“My sincere condolences to the Whittington family. Coach Whittington was a positive role model and influential person beginning in my college years....Read More »
17 of 44 | Posted by: Phil Brooks - Plano, TX
“Mr. Whiittington helped me when I first decided I wanted to go to school. He is a big reason why I did go to college. I will always be grateful for...Read More »
18 of 44 | Posted by: Deadra Litzsinger
“Memory is a garden where yesterday continues to blossom and love continues to grow.
As a playing opponet from 1957-1961, I have fond memories of a...Read More »
19 of 44 | Posted by: Charlie & Rosemary Donaldson - TN
“Sonny was a great guy, and I remember him coming to the volleyball and basketball games at CCS and always having a pot of coffee ready for us and Mrs...Read More »
20 of 44 | Posted by: Joe Inscore - Magnolia, AR
“I'm so sorry for your loss, Sonny was there when we moved to Magnolia, and showed His caring Spirit to me and my family. I enjoyed the fishing and...Read More »
21 of 44 | Posted by: Steve McDonald - El Dorado, AR
“It was an honor to have worked with Sonny and have known him as a friend. God bless
22 of 44 | Posted by: Brad Moody - Hot Springs, AR
“He will be missed greatly - Dot Duncan
23 of 44 | Posted by: Dot Duncan - Magnolia - Friend
“SherryI am so sorry. Patti and I just stopped and prayed for you. I did not know most of what was in the obit. We cry when you cry. I pray for God's...Read More »
24 of 44 | Posted by: Joe Statton - Bryant, AR - Friend
“It remains one of the most difficult events - losing a loved one, but I know Coach Whittington is proud to "trade-in" the wheelchair for wings. He...Read More »
25 of 44 | Posted by: Boyd - Denton, TX
“My sincerest thoughts and prayers go to the family. May God's love surround you and shield you through this difficult time. I had the honor of...Read More »
26 of 44 | Posted by: Melisa Rutherford - Blytheville, AR
“Sherry, may it help even a little to know that you are in the thoughts and prayers of friends. Sonny and I were colleagues many years, and I...Read More »
27 of 44 | Posted by: Dale Whitman - Hot Springs, AR
“Leave a condolence or a memory.
28 of 44 | Posted by: Alvin Farrar - Magnolia
“Sonny was our friend as well as Tommy's coach. He was always smiling and laughing. He would always look up Tommy and me when he was in the area...Read More »
29 of 44 | Posted by: Tommy and Gail Reeder
“Sherry, Sorry for your loss. Sonny was a special person in my life and I will miss him.
30 of 44 | Posted by: Dan Veach - Little Rock, AR
“We are so sorry for your loss. Sonny was a force of nature who brought mich joy to the lives of all those who knew him.
You are in our prayers.
...Read More »
31 of 44 | Posted by: Carol Ann & David Duke - Friend
“A great loss. Always liked seeing him drive his old Chevy truck.
32 of 44 | Posted by: Ed and Julie Kardas - Magnolia, AR
“I remember Coach Whittington during my time at SSC and all the great work he did for the college. He will be missed all.
33 of 44 | Posted by: Ron Sparks - Santo Domingo, DR
“Sherry I am sorry for your loss. Jack Thorp
34 of 44 | Posted by: Jack Thorp - Hot Springs, AR
We lived in Magnolia during the time that Mike was in school and Boys Club sports with Jimmy and Jack and have great memories. Sonny...Read More »
35 of 44 | Posted by: Diane, Jim, Jimmy, and Jack Kimbell - SC
“Sonny was a great friend. He will be missed.
36 of 44 | Posted by: Smeady Stuart - Magnolia, AR
“Our prayers and thoughts are with Sherry and the entire Whittington family during this time.
Chris & Ruth Haefner
37 of 44 | Posted by: Chris Haefner - Friend
“Surely Heaven has increased with the presence of Coach Whittington while our lives have diminished with his passing. But because Coach accepted Jesus...Read More »
38 of 44 | Posted by: Chris Fountain - Texarkana, TX
“Surely Heaven has increased with the presence of Coach Whittington, yet our lives here on earth have been diminished by his passing. What Coach only...Read More »
39 of 44 | Posted by: Chris Fountain - Texarkana, TX
“Truely one of the greatest persons I knew.
40 of 44 | Posted by: Phil & Nancy Seidenberger - TX
“Myself and many other former Mulrider FB players were very fortunate to be mentored by Sonny Whittington. My wife and I send our deepest sympathies...Read More »
41 of 44 | Posted by: Robert Martin - Cabot, AR
“I would like to extend my condolences to the family. I met Mr. Whittington during my first year as a freshman at Southern Arkansas University. He...Read More »
42 of 44 | Posted by: Nicolas Williams - Little Rock, AR
“Sherry, Whitney and family,
As you know, Sonny was one of a kind.
From him recruiting me and then me having the privilege of working with him, he...Read More »
43 of 44 | Posted by: Keli King - Krum, TX - Friend
“Coach W, along with Coach Powell, made my four years at SSC a true joy! He was a pleasure to work with and I've always known that he would be there...Read More »
44 of 44 | Posted by: Cathy Cameron - Sherwood, AR
Lewis Funeral Home
Sonny Whittington, 73 of Magnolia, Arkansas died Friday, December 21, 2012 at the John R. Williamson Hospice House in El Dorado, Arkansas.
Sonny was born March 4, 1939 in Rison, Arkansas to the late James E. Whittington, Sr. and Alice (Brewer) Whittington and was also preceded in death by his brothers, Bennie Joe and Kenneth Whittington.
Sonny first came to Southern Arkansas University (SAU) as a beginning freshman student in the fall of 1957 when the school was Southern State College (SSC). He arrived with a half-scholarship to play football under Coach Auburn Smith who would have a tremendous impact on his life. Before the year was out, Sonny worked hard enough to earn a full scholarship. As a sophomore, he was quarterback for the Muleriders. When SSC's all-American QB Calvin Neal returned from military service, he was shifted to play other positions, including tight end. He attended SSC when the bond between athletes and other students was strong, facilitated by the small size of the student body where everyone knew everyone else on campus and when professors knew students by name and often knew the students' family, too. Years later, Sonny said that the greatest compliment he ever received as Director of Admissions at SAU occurred when someone said he reminded them of Milton Talley, the beloved dean of students at SSC, noted for his personal interest in every student he met. He received a B.S.E. from SSC in 1961 and was hired by Fordyce High School, as coach and history teacher. After six years there, he became assistant football coach at Pine Bluff High School and enjoyed great success. In December 1968, Coach Raymond "Rip" Powell asked him to join the Muleriders as an assistant coach. He served during one of the team's greatest eras of winning football. He later attributed his success in recruiting to lessons he had learned from Coach Powell, particularly an approach that treated each student as unique and special, meriting the "personal" touch which became the hallmark of Sonny's successful career after football. In the spring of 1979, he became director of Admissions and Recruiting at SAU. He served in this position for two decades. Sonny developed the first true marketing plan for SAU, and his office grew over time from himself and a part-time secretary to a fully-staffed office of three full-time recruiters and support personnel. He always paid close attention with personal visits to all schools in SAU's prime recruiting territory in a 150-mile radius from Magnolia. He went out of his way to make friends with each school's superintendent, principal, and counselor. And he developed programs designed to appeal to the kinds of students and parents found in these locales. Often, he engaged in recruiting students one-by-one by finding how SAU might meet the needs of particular students. And when he found a student wanted or needed a program not found at SAU, he would help put the student in touch with a recruiter from another school. His personal and caring approach found much success. During the 23 years in which he directed recruiting, the student body increased an average of 60 students per year, growing from 1,739 in 1979 to 3,127 in 2001 when he retired. In 2012 he was inducted into the Southern Arkansas University Sports Hall of Fame.
Sonny was a member of the Central Baptist Church, Kiwanis Club, past President of (ARTA) Arkansas Retired Teachers Association, past President of (ArkACRAO) Arkansas Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers and was the Little League Baseball Coach for the Boys and Girls Club from 1974-1981.
He is survived by his wife Sherry Whittington of Magnolia, son Mike Whittington and wife Dianna of Ft. Smith, daughter Whitney Whittington of Magnolia, granddaughter Bailey Whittington and grandson Stratton Whittington both of Ft. Smith.
Funeral services will be Wednesday, December 26th at 2:00 p.m. at the Central Baptist Church with Dr. Mike Seabaugh officiating with interment following at Memorial Park Cemetery under the direction of Lewis Funeral Home, Inc. of Magnolia.
Pallbearers will be the Bereans Sunday school class at Central Baptist Church. Honorary pallbearers will be Barney Hugh Reeves, Cotton Staten, Claude Wilson, Ed Nipper, Gary Weed, and Jim Garrett.
In lieu of flowers and plants, the family requests memorial donations be made to the James "Sonny" Whittington Endowment, SAU Foundation, P.O. Box 9174, Magnolia, AR 71754-9174.
420 N Jackson Magnolia, AR 71753
Tel. (870) 234-1010