Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

MC Weekly

March 12, 2014

RAY MOSCOWITZ: Two notable sons of Peru: 'Whit' and G. David

Their contributions to community live on at Fine Arts Gallery.

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series on how the Peru Community Schools Fine Arts Gallery got its start.

They were something. One died tragically at a young age, a budding star suddenly gone. The other passed on in 1965, an exhilarating life over.

Both were born and raised in Peru.

I wrote about them last week in tracing the origin of the Peru Community Schools Fine Art Gallery.

As Paul Harvey would say, here’s the rest of the story about John Miller "Whit" Whittenberger and G. David Thompson.

First there was Whittenberger.

If you are familiar with Whittenberger Auditorium inside the Memorial Union at Indiana University, the facility is named after him.

The honor was bestowed after Whittenberger’s premature death at the age of 24 in August 1910.

When I read the opening sentence of Whittenberger’s obituary in the Sept. 30, 1910, edition of the Peru Republican, I knew I was reading about a special person.

Here’s that opening sentence:

“No young man ever passed to his eternal sleep in this community, for whom the people of Peru and vicinity had a higher regard, than John Miller Whittenberger, son of Mr. and Mrs. John F. Whittenberger, south of the city on the Santa Fe pike, who died last Monday morning at 6:30 o’clock.”

The obit goes on to say, “It is understood that when the young man became afflicted with typhoid fever and was compelled to go to bed that he discouraged those about him by intimating that this would be his last sickness.”

Whittenberger reportedly improved twice, but suffered relapses and died peacefully in his sleep.

The community was aghast.

Schools closed for his funeral, according to the obit. At Oak Grove Cemetery, where Whittenberger was interred, the casket was opened. Hundreds of school children and others passed by. Students and faculty members at IU attended the service.

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