Harley P. Whitlock

Born: Sun., Aug. 14, 1938
Died: Sun., Jan. 3, 2021


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Harley Paul Whitlock, age 82, of Pittsfield, Illinois went to be with the Lord on Sunday, January 3rd, 2021. Harley was born to Harley Earl and Alberta (Crawford) Whitlock on August 14th, 1938, in Macoupin County, Illinois. His family relocated to live with relatives near New Salem, Illinois when he was a small child because Harley’s dad was in poor health. They eventually moved to a farmhouse just west of New Salem. Sadly, Harley’s dad died when he was a young boy. Harley married Rita Gail Kelley on January 24th, 1958 and she survives.

Harley attended grade school and junior high in New Salem. He graduated from Pittsfield High School in 1956. Harley loved to share stories about his Saukee Football days. After high school, Harley attended Western Illinois University in Macomb hitchhiking to and from home almost every weekend. Harley decided to leave college, get married, and start farming after 1 1/2 years at WIU.

After a year of marriage, Harley and Rita moved to his childhood home west of New Salem.  They were blessed with 4 children, Harley Earl, Billy Joe, Anita and Paula. Billy Joe died at age 10 after a 3 year battle with leukemia.

Harley and Rita started farming with few resources. They worked hard and grew the farm operations over the years, raising hogs and grain farming. Rita and the eldest son, Harley Earl,  worked  beside him in the early years. However, Harley insisted his children go to college. He was proud that his 3 living children graduated from college.

Harley became unable to actively manage the farm several years ago. He and Rita moved to Pittsfield because Harley wanted to be near the hospital. Family and friends, including his caregivers at Eastside, know that Harley was still farming and “directing” from afar. He found comfort knowing that his son Harley Earl was overseeing the farm.

Harley enjoyed trap shooting and the many friends he and Rita made participating in trap shooting events over the years. He loved hunting quail and pheasant with family and friends. Other than his family, his bird dogs and guns were his pride and joy. He still talked about a training a new bird dog and going hunting when he would be able to do so.  

He dearly loved his grandchildren. They are blessed to have memories of spending time with Grandpa Harley.

Harley had resided at Eastside Health and Rehabilitation Center for the past several years. His family greatly appreciated the wonderful care he received from the staff and how they always treated Harley like their own family. He was looking forward to receiving the COVID-19 vaccination to prevent “that bug” and to also be able to spend time with his wife, Rita, and family in the near future.  Rita had spent time with Harley at Eastside almost every day until early March when she could no longer visit him due to COVID. Harley worried about Rita and was happy to know that his daughter, Paula, had moved home to live with her.

Despite Harley’s dementia, he understood the value of quarantine and encouraged his daughter, Anita,  to stay vigilant in the Public Health fight against COVID.  Sadly, Harley became ill and died due to COVID.  His family could not be by his side, but the his “Eastside Family” loved and cared for him as he fought to survive over the past week. Harley died the same day that Eastside staff and residents received vaccinations.

Harley is survived by his loving wife, Rita; children, Harley Earl (Lori) Whitlock, Anita (Scott) Andress, and Paula James, all of Pittsfield, IL; grandchildren, Jennie Rebecca Whitlock (Mickey Gauld), Bryce (Brittney) Frieden, Morgan (Tyler) McDonald, Anna James (Billy Tinsley), Sarah, Noah, and Jacob James; great-grandchildren, Bryleigh and Lucas Frieden, Ivy Lee Gauld, Evelynn and Brooks Frieden, and Scarlet Tinsley; sister, Mardell Hammitt; sisters-in-law, Ginger Whitlock and Norma Harmison; brother-in-law, John (Lois) Kelley; and many nieces and nephews.

Harley was preceded in death by his son, Billy Joe; his parents; brothers, Robert Whitlock and George Whitlock; sisters, Genevieve Ridgeway and Mary Jane Crowder; 3 siblings in infancy; brothers-in-law, Bob Ridgeway, Walter Crowder and Edwin Hammitt; and sister-in-law, Eleanor Whitlock.

All services will be held privately with interment at Pittsfield West Cemetery. Memorials are suggested to be made to Pike County Health Department. Online condolences may be left to the family at www.nieburfh.com. Niebur Funeral Home in Pittsfield is handling the arrangements.

Charitable donations may be made in Harley's memory to the following organization:

Pike County Health Department

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Dorothy and Roger Yaeger
   Posted Tue January 05, 2021
Rita and family,
We are so sorry to hear about Harley's passing. You have our deepest sympathy.
Dorothy and Roger Yaeger

Debra Whitlock Booker
   Posted Wed January 06, 2021
Aunt Rita, Harley Earl, Paula, and Anita I am so sorry to hear the news of uncle Harley passing. I remember a lot from the younger days, but didn't see him in Eastside. I love to think he is with all the family having a chat with dad and the rest. I am sorry he was sick with covid, but he is in no pain now. With much love and prayers I am thinking of all of you. May God bless you and keep you safe, love you all.

Greg & Carolyn Dickerson
   Posted Wed January 06, 2021
So sorry to hear about you dad passing, Harley. I have a lot of memories of visiting with your parents at the bank. They were both always so pleasant to talk to.

Linda L. Dunham
   Posted Wed January 06, 2021
Rita and family,
So sad to read about Harley in the paper a few minutes ago. He and Reg were such good friends all through high school and continued with trap shooting. Prayers for the family. Linda Watson Dunham

Bob and Kathleen Dunn
   Posted Wed January 06, 2021
We are so sorry to learn of the loss of Harley. Our sincere sympathy to all the family. Please know you are in our prayers.

Richard Heitholt
   Posted Wed January 06, 2021
Remembering Harley, from my first year in Pittsfield. He was one tough linebacker on the undefeated team of 1965. His competitive spirit no doubt led to his success in farming. RIP, Harley

Sharon Powell
   Posted Wed January 06, 2021
Rita and family,
I just learned of Harley’s passing, my sincere sympathy, and I pray for peace and healing for you and family.

Bonnie Casteel Long
   Posted Wed January 06, 2021
Dear Rita, Anita, and all your families,
Sending my condolence and sorrow as I learn the loss of your husband and father. I knew him best through FSB. Definitely an asset there and always so friendly anywhere. My prayer and thoughts of you in your sadness. May family, friends and the love of God comfort you in your sorrow.
My Sincere Sympathy, Bonnie

Floyd and Donna Pursley
   Posted Thu January 07, 2021
Sorry for your loss. We will miss our good friend. Thinking of your family.

Gary and Rhodora Pursley
   Posted Thu January 07, 2021
Sorry for your loss.

Cristy Mccartney
   Posted Thu January 07, 2021
So sorry for your loss, thinking of you at this difficult time. With sympathy, Cristy and Bill McCartney

Debbie Hazelrigg
   Posted Sat January 09, 2021
Rita and family , I am so sorry for your loss. He was such a sweet ole guy that I cared very much about when I worked at the Manor and he was there. Rita , I grew to care for you as well during that time & I know how much you both Loved each other. With Sympathy Debbie Hazelrigg

Kimberly Merryman
   Posted Mon January 11, 2021
Dear Whitlock Family,
We are so sorry to hear of your loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all. Sending love.

Debbie Petty
   Posted Tue January 12, 2021
Anita and family,
Please accept my sympathy for you, and your family, on your loss of your father.
Debbie Petty

Erika Deitzman White
   Posted Wed January 13, 2021
Harley and Lori
We are so sorry for your loss. We will be keeping
You and your family in our thoughts and prayers
- May God give you comfort and peace

Erika and family

Darwin and Lisa Feenstra
   Posted Wed January 13, 2021
Rita and family,

We were so sorry to hear of your loss. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

Darwin and Lisa (Burbridge) Feenstra

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