Lyle Francis Whitson


Lyle Francis Whitson
December 16, 1922
August 29, 2019

Windham- Lyle Francis Whitson, 96, was born December 16, 1922 in Rushville, IL and passed away on August 29, 2019 in Portland, Maine.

Lyle Francis Whitson was an extraordinary man living in extraordinary times.  Born on a farm in Rushville, Illinois to Myrtle and Guy Whitson, he was the 2nd of 11 children.  Only 7 years old at the onset of the great depression, he labored in the fields to contribute to the family income. He attended the local school house, and Carthage High becoming a star football player, igniting his life-long passion for sports. In his later years, he would win the Silver Gloves in the Navy boxing competitions.

As the depression continued, he became a member of the Civilian Conservation Corps, contributing to the legacy of roads and bridges built as a result of this New Deal program of the Great Depression. At the age of eighteen he enlisted in the United States Navy, and became one of the youngest chiefs in the Navy and served our country for 22 years.

A self-taught and brilliant engineer, he was selected for and attended a Nuclear Energy course taught by Albert Einstein. With one of the top 100 highest IQs in his basic training class, he was selected to attend Sheet Metal training at Ford Motor where he developed a friendship with Henry Ford, the founder of the automobile industry.

He manned-the engines of the great U.S. Navy ships during World War II and beyond. Exploring the most remote locations of the world stoking the engines of ice breakers meeting the fiercest weather conditions at the North and South Poles.

Lyle served faithfully on the U.S.S. MacWorth, U.S.S. Denabola, U.S.S. Staten Island, U.S.S. Glennon, U.S.S. Leary and his final duty was served on the U.S.S. Pawcatuck.  After the bombing of Pearl Harbor Lyle was stationed in Portland, Maine, where his duties included arming Navy ships with the ammunition they needed to go into battle.  However, one of his greatest legacies was training young engine room recruits with the skills and professionalism that would carry them a lifetime.

After his retirement from the Navy, he settled in Portland, Maine with his wife Lorraine (Lenning) and his five children.  Continuing his career in engineering at a variety of companies in the Greater Portland area and his legacy of mentoring and training young workers. He was a go-to refrigeration man for many of the Old Port restaurants.

He loved his grand-children and great-grandchildren, rooting them on in sports, never missing a game. He coached and umpired their sports teams. Delighting them with the creation of the Hoobley-Doobley, a three-wheel vehicle created by merging a motorcycle and back-end of a car.

Lyle was predeceased by his son, Donald Whitson and is survived by his children, Robert Whitson, Sandra Gora, Kathleen Delcourt, Wanda Whitson; 12 grandchildren, and 21 great grandchildren.

A celebration of Lyle’s life will be held September 14th at the West Gorham Union Church, 190 Ossipee Trail, Gorham, ME @ 11:00 am.

Memorial contributions may be made to Veteran’s Count.
Easter Seals Maine Attn: Veteran’s Count 125 Presumpscot St. Portland, ME 04103

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