George A. 'Pete' Whiten Sr., 96, war hero, longtime city and state official

During World War II, Lt. Whiten, a platoon leader, earned a Silver Star medal braving heavy German fire to rescue two of his men. After the Vietnam War, he showed unflagging devotion to his son, who was in and out of hospitals for 30 years — the result, his family contended, of exposure to Agent Orange.

In April 1945, Lt. Whiten commanded a platoon of African-American volunteers who had been ordered to attack a German position near Allersburg, Germany, to relieve pressure on a nearby American unit.

His Silver Star citation stated his platoon knocked out two German tanks, demoralizing the enemy force. His mission completed, he ordered his platoon to withdraw, but upon realizing that two wounded men were left behind, he retraced his steps and evacuated the pair without regard for his own safety.

Years later he told his son-in-law, David Boozer of Marietta, that he was proud of the way his men fought but regretted his platoon wasn't adequately staffed. There were no medics assigned to his unit, Mr. Whiten said, and he had to do the best he could to treat the two men he rescued. Unfortunately, one of them later died of his wounds.

Lt. Whiten earned a Bronze Star three months earlier acting as a supply officer of an armored infantry battalion in the campaign to liberate France. That citation praised him for bravery in providing a constant supply of ammunition, rations and fuel for his unit in the face of enemy small-arms and artillery fire.

Mr. Whiten left active duty in 1945 but served in the Army Reserves for the next 30 years, attending its monthly gatherings and annual summer camps. He retired in 1975 at the rank of lieutenant colonel.

George A. "Pete" Whiten Sr., 96, died Thursday at his Gainesville residence of heart failure. His funeral will be at 2 p.m. Sunday in the chapel of the First Baptist Church of Gainesville. Little & Davenport Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

A graduate of the University of Georgia, Mr. Whiten served Gainesville as city clerk for six years and as city manager for 13 years. He went on to become an administrative assistant in Georgia's Department of Human Resources for eight years before retiring in 1978.

As Gainesville's city manager, he was a conscientious and thorough administrator who had a vision about the city's future, said Carlyle Cox, who worked for him at the time. "Pete was instrumental in getting our city involved in the federal Model Cities program," he said. "That eventually led to major improvements being made in low-income parts of southeast and southwest Gainesville."

In retirement, Mr. Whiten devoted himself to his ailing son, George A. "Pete" Whiten Jr., who died in 2003.

"Dad was my hero," said his daughter, Patricia Boozer. "He gave me and the rest of the family the energy and will to continue comforting Pete Jr. all those years."

Mr. Whiten also looked after his wife of 64 years, Evelyn, during the five years she was treated for lung cancer. She died in 2006.

Also surviving are another daughter, Sandy Whiten of Gainesville; six grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.

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