Loretta M. Whitaker of 318 McGraw House, Ithaca, passed away at Cayuga Medical Center on Friday, December 12, 2008 at the age of 83.

Born in Erin, New York on June 29, 1925, Loretta was the daughter of Oscar and Dorothy (Sharp) Pelham.

She had worked at Tompkins County Hospital and Tompkins County Farm & Home but considered caring for family the most important life endeavor. While the children were young Loretta was actively involved in their lives by serving in a leadership capacity with the PTA and Girl Scouts. At home she made cookies with the children and later the grandchildren. As they grew she shared recipes from her extensive collection of cookbooks, sharing cooking secrets that were not written in the pages of those cookbooks. Loretta could often be found watching cooking shows, working on her crossword puzzles, talking to Tutor or one of her children on the phone or challenging Rachael to a game of Scrabble. The pride that Loretta took in her family and their accomplishments was evidenced by the praise she often gave in the form of a note or card. She also lifted the spirits of friends with smiles of confidence and notes of support, leading many to consider Loretta a very special person in their life.

She was married to George Whitaker for 10 blissful years before he passed away. He always treated Loretta like a queen and bought her roses just because he loved her. In return, Loretta loved George deeply and missed him everyday over the past 22 years. Filling one another’s hearts with joy, the couple gardened & canned together, went dancing with Roger & Mary Whitaker, traveled, and talked about their children. Every year George bought Loretta a box of chocolates for her birthday and for Mother’s Day and since his passing George’s son Bob has continued the tradition without missing a year.

Whether Loretta was at home, walking, dining out, shopping or just getting together with friends, she was always dressed impeccably. Loretta’s warm presence will be dearly missed by all who knew and loved her.

In addition to her parents, Loretta was preceded in death by her loving husband George Whitaker; one brother Dr. Richard Pelham; three sisters Evelyn Haflett, Virginia Fish and Patsy Rial and one brother-in-law William Haflett.

Loretta adored her seven children who survive her. She felt privileged to provide nurture to her three children and equally privileged to be a mother to George’s four children. Her children are Lois (Pete) Briggs, Donna Collins, Frank (Annette) White, Ken (Donna) Whitaker, Jim (Marie) Whitaker, Bob (Chris) Whitaker and Bill (Maria) Whitaker. She is also survived by 17 grandchildren Petey (Angie) Briggs, Jen (Jason) Ryman, DJ (Ginger) Collins, Mike (Ann) Collins, Rachael (Jozef) Dobsovic, Frankie White, Ryan White, Kenny Whitaker, Ronda Whitaker, Andy (Terry) Whitaker, Kenna (Seth) Bailey, Mike (Kelly) Whitaker, Jeff (April) Whitaker, Robbie Whitaker, Beth Jolles (Kevin Alexander), Marissa Whitaker and Brandon Whitaker; 16 great-grandchildren Hunter, Nathan, Marcus, Jessica, Tony, Matthew, Kevin, Ashley, Jordan, Heather, Marissa, Cheyenne, Jenneca, Skyler, Sean and Kyle; two sisters Lena (Rev. Emerson) Ross and Carolyn “Tutor” Jelliff; one sister-in-law Dee Haflett; a special friend Peggy Houghton and many nieces and nephews including Rita Brown and Rochelle Jelliff who always gave Loretta special care.

The family will be present to receive friends on Monday, December 15 from 5-8 p.m. at the Ness-Sibley Funeral Home, 23 South St., Trumansburg.
Services will be held at the funeral home on Tuesday, December 16, at 1 p.m. with the Rev. Ed Jelliff and the Rev. Tim Dean officiating. Private graveside services will be held at the Christian Cemetery in Enfield at a later date.

The family asks those who wish to make a contribution in Loretta’s memory to kindly consider Hospicare of Tompkins County, 172 E. King Rd., Ithaca, NY 14850.