Joel Wesley Whiteley of Panguitch Lake Utah was born in Alvin, Texas, to Reverend (Cowboy) Alford and Ruth Whiteley on December 14, 1933. For the past ten winters, he has lived on Maury Island with his wife Vivian so they could be close to their daughter and son-in-law, Ginger and Rob Hamilton, also of Maury Island. He died in his Panguitch Lake cabin surrounded by family on Friday, August 9, 2019, at the age of 85.
Joel grew up in Arkansas where he graduated from Fayetteville High School. After attending Iowa University for one year where he was a member of the swim team, he joined the United States Air Force in 1955 and pursued his love of flying through the Aviation Cadet Program from which he graduated in 1957. In 1958, he was trained for the C-124 and began flying missions all over the world including Lebanon, Nigeria, the Belgian Congo and Vietnam. In 1965 Joel was trained in the C-141 and became a pilot instructor at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma.
In 1970, he was transferred to U-Tapao Thailand where he was assigned as Squadron Airlift Command Post Duty Controller. In 1971 Joel was transferred to McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey where he held the position of NAF Airlift Command Post Controller. Joel retired from the US Air Force in February 1975, after 20 years of service to his country. He was awarded many medals during his military service including Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Combat Readiness Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, four Air Force Longevity Service Award Ribbons, Three Armed Forces Expeditionary Medals, Vietnam Service Medal, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal along with many others. Joel finished his career as the Fire and Safety Manager for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. He eventually completed his college degree with Phoenix University at the age of 65.
During his childhood, he greatly enjoyed exploring nature with his brothers, Howard and Ted and sister, Opal. This continued later in life through his joy of hiking. He had many tales of working on the farm and learning about horses from his father. He was very proud of the fact that he had hiked all seven peaks in Colorado. Throughout his lifetime, he remained an avid swimmer and runner. He competed in the Senior Olympics three times in Arizona, Louisiana and Florida. Joel swam across freezing cold Panguitch Lake along with the trout, just for the fun of it. He won numerous Medals and always said “Losing was fun, but I admit winning is more fun!” Joel belonged to the Las Vegas Track Club and ran races almost every weekend. He ran the St George Utah Marathon twice, the Las Vegas Marathon twice, the Race to Robie Creek Half Marathon and The Great Potato Half Marathon in Boise, Idaho, plus many others.
His favorite place was the cabin at Panguitch Lake where he loved sitting on the deck, hiking, spending time with his friends and family, snowshoeing around the mountain and watching or feeding the neighborhood critters and deer. Grandpa Joel was known to tell a good joke, make a good bet, play a game of Sudoku on the iPad, jump on the trampoline, start up a game of soccer and was always available for a good talk. He loved all foods, but his favorites were chocolate, ice cream and chocolate-covered almonds.
Joel had many grandkids who inherited his athleticism. Joel and Vivian were front row to as many of the grandkids’ events as they could attend and took great pleasure in the next generation’s love of sports and extracurricular activities.
Joel is survived by his wife Vivian Whiteley. They just celebrated their 27th anniversary in July. Joel is survived by four children; Mary Woloson (husband Ken), Kathryn Jordan, Wesley Whiteley (wife Sara), and Robert Whiteley (wife Kristen). Joel had two stepdaughters; Shelley Monks (husband Jason), Ginger Hamilton (husband Rob) and sister in law, Yvonna Whiteley. He had 19 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents, his three siblings and granddaughter Isa.
To know Joel was to dearly love him. He was simply kind, gentle and soft-spoken. He will be missed by so many people and was deeply loved by his family.
A celebration of Joel’s life is planned for a later time.
Because of Joel’s struggle with Parkinson disease, in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Larry Ruvo Brain Center in Las Vegas.