Published: December 28, 2014
ITHACA, N.Y. — Dennis Christopher Whittle, 86, died on December 28 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.
He was the son of the late Right Reverend Dennis Christopher Whittle and Maude Pettingale of Alexandria, Va. Although nationally recognized as a leader in the fields of advertising and public relations, Dennis was best known locally as an antiques dealer and owner of The Collection Antiques where he had stores at various times in Covert and Trumansburg, N.Y. This was his retirement business, which he owned with his wife, Pat, for nearly 40 years. As an avid student of social history, he became a specialist in pre-1820 antiques, especially Eighteenth Century artifacts.
The Whittles moved to Ithaca in 1975 with six of their seven children: Peter, Lauren, Sean, Linda, Sara and Tom. When Dennis was asked to join Cornell University as director of media services, he combined various communications operations in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Human Ecology and Cooperative Extension into an 83-person communications service. He headed the department for ten years until he switched to teaching for another ten years. His leading course in public relations and advertising attracted more than 300 students each semester. He also developed an internship program, which helped to place many students in jobs.
Prior to coming to Cornell, Whittle was the director of communications for the American Bar Association (ABA) in Chicago and head of the ABA Press, which published 34 professional journals. He was the legal profession’s chief press spokesman during the Watergate years and served as communications advisor to the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court Warren E. Burger.
He graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University at age 19 with two majors, journalism and education, and subsequently enrolled at Boston University’s School of Communications, where he finished his course work in one year.
He then headed for Germany in 1951 where he worked for three years as assistant public information officer, headquarters for the US Army in Europe, in Heidelberg. During this time, he served as chief public information officer and head historian for Army Ordnance Corps in Europe.
On his way to Germany, he met his future wife Pat Healy on board the ship. Their shipboard romance led to marriage in Heidelberg, where they both worked as Army civilian employees. They traveled extensively throughout Europe before returning to the United States with their first of seven children, Candace Fraser, who lives with her family in the Chicago area.
He was preceded in death by Patricia Healy Whittle in 2011. He is survived by his sister Virginia (Wendy) Whittle Hoge of Alexandria; seven children, Candace (Jim) Fraser of Clarendon Hills, Ill., Peter (Lucienne Aubert) Whittle of St David’s, Penn., Lauren Whittle of San Carlos, Calif., Sean (Eileen Lowry) Whittle of Manchester, N.H., Linda Whittle of Boston, Sara Whittle of Ithaca, and Tom (Jodie Lee) Whittle, also of Ithaca; fondly referred to as his “eighth” child, Claud Young of Seville, Spain; six grandchildren, Dan (Moriah Brooks) Fraser, Shannon Fraser, Molly Whittle, Christopher Whittle, Kelsey Stearns and Dylan Whittle; and two great grandchildren, Liam Fraser and Angus Fraser, sons of Dan and Moriah Fraser; and nieces Dr Hilary Hoge and her son Nick Hoge of Milton, Mass., and Leslie Egerton Hoge of Reston, Va. In keeping with his wishes, there will be no funeral or visiting hours. His remains will be divided and interred both with his wife at St James Cemetery in Trumansburg and with his family in Cismont-Keswick, Va., where his father was parish rector for many years.
Memorial contributions may be made to University of Rochester Medicine, Neurology-Office of Gift and Donor Records, PO Box 270441, Rochester NY 14627.
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