Kenneth W. Whitten, 88, passed away suddenly on April 8, 2020. He was born February 4, 1932 in Collinsville, Alabama to the late George Andrew and Mary Magnolia (Hawkins) Whitten. He was raised on a farm as the oldest of seven children in northeast Alabama. Ken’s parents instilled in him a strong work ethic that served him well growing up on the farm and throughout his career.
Ken received his A.B. in Chemistry at Berry College, M.S in Chemistry at the University of Mississippi, and a Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry at the University of Illinois. He taught at Tulane, The University of Southwestern Louisiana, the Mississippi State College for Women and the University of Alabama before joining the University of Georgia faculty as the Coordinator of General Chemistry, a position which he held from 1967 until 1998. During his tenure at UGA, he rose to the rank of full professor, served on many campus committees, and won many awards for teaching including the General Sandy Beaver Award. He was most proud of the chemistry textbook that he coauthored with Dr. Kenneth Gailey and Dr. Raymond Davis, “General Chemistry with Qualitative Analysis.” The textbook and its accompanying manuals went on to be widely used in the United States and internationally. His passion for and gift of teaching left a mark on thousands of freshman chemistry students. He found great joy in following his student’s future successes in their chosen fields.
Outside the classroom, he loved raising cattle with his brother Pete in Alabama and worked diligently each spring and summer in his backyard garden in Athens. Sharing vegetables from his summer garden with friends and neighbors brought him much joy over the years.
Ken was so proud of his family. He is survived by his two children- Andy Whitten and wife Pilar of Guitiriz, Spain and Kathryn Whitten Bohmer and husband Jim of Charlotte, NC; five grandchildren, Oscar Durden, Sarah and Danny Whitten-Losada and Matthew and Sam Bohmer; 5 brothers and sisters- Peggy Lindsey of Durham, North Carolina, Carolyn Crawford of Fort Payne, Alabama, Pete Whitten and his wife Brenda of Fyffe, Alabama, Katy Woodall and her husband Bobby of Fyffe, Alabama, and Sandra Nolan and her husband Skip of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; sister in law June Brewer and her husband Buddy; and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his brother G.A. Whitten and his former wife Betty Jones Whitten.
A memorial service will be planned for this summer. Donations can be made in his memory to the “UGA Foundation,” referencing “Whitten Chemistry Teaching Assistant Award” (Mail to UGA Foundation, Gift Accounting, One Press Place, Athens, GA 30602) or online at www.chem.uga.edu under the “Give Now” button.