The Rt. Rev. O’Kelley Whitaker, retired Bishop of Central New York and a U.S. Navy hospital corpsman during World War II, died June 25. He was 88.
Born in Durham, North Carolina, Whitaker was a graduate of Duke University and Seabury-Western Theological Seminary. He was ordained deacon and priest in 1952, and served churches in North Carolina and Florida, including St. Luke’s Cathedral in Orlando, before becoming bishop coadjutor in 1981.
He was bishop of the diocese from 1983 to 1992. After leaving Central New York he was an assistant bishop in the Diocese of Southern Virginia until 1997. He composed several hymns, and was the author of Sister Death (Morehouse Barlow, 1974.)
The bishop and his wife, Betty Abernethy Whitaker, moved to Aldersgate Retirement Community in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2009. He served on the resident council and the Ecumenical Memorial Committee. He helped begin monthly Holy Communion services at Aldersgate and presided at several memorial services.
The bishop is survived by his wife, Betty Abernethy Whitaker; a brother, Faison Y. Whitaker, Jr.; sons William Faison Whitaker and John Andrew Whitaker; a daughter, Margaret Victoria Whitaker; and granddaughters Kelley Elizabeth Whitaker and Natalie Adele Whitaker.