Burlington – Roy Lee Whitaker, Jr., 80, passed away on Tuesday, May 17, 2022 at UNC Medical Center surrounded by his loving family. A native of Sylva, NC, he was the son of the late Roy Lee Whitaker, Sr. and Harriet Holland Whitaker. He was married for over 55 years to the love of his life, Diana Overbey Whitaker, who survives.
Roy enjoyed his career as a traffic manager at Burlington Industries – Transportation Division for 38 years. He excelled at his career where he saw the best in people and worked hard each day to overcome challenges and provide great service. He really enjoyed his coworkers, many of whom became good friends. Roy had a positive attitude and relied on his ever- present sense of humor to find the best outcome in all situations. He was a
longtime member of the First Baptist Church of Burlington where he served as deacon, usher, and a tireless volunteer. He proudly served on numerous church committees, including the finance committee. He traveled with many disaster-relief teams through the NC Baptist Men (NCBM). He journeyed to parts of North Carolina ravaged by hurricanes and storms helping victims repair their homes and communities. Roy was a member of Toastmasters International and enjoyed participating in humorous speech contests where he sometimes won 1st place.
Throughout his life and especially during retirement, Roy cultivated a love and passion for gardening. He completed the Alamance Master Gardner program. After achieving Master Gardner status, he spent many hours volunteering with the cooperative extension answering questions about regional plants, flowers and vegetables. His backyard gardens were legendary and he loved growing tomatoes, beans, okra, squash and cucumbers to share with friends and family. Roy loved traveling. He introduced his family to many of America’s national parks, large cities, towns and museums. He loved camping, outdoor hikes and adventures. He enjoyed learning new things and meeting people on his excursions. Simple trips to the mountains and the coast brought him a great deal of joy. He also created colorful stained-glass pieces for friends and family and dabbled in both photography and pottery. One of Roy’s greatest joys was his grandchildren who brought him countless hours of laughter and fun in his later years.
Roy always had a special place in his heart and memory for the mountains of Western North Carolina where he grew up. He introduced family and friends to the gentle beauty of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains and enjoyed many camping and fly-fishing expeditions during his retirement years. He shared many stories and laughs about the fly-fishing trips he took in recent years to Hazel Creek in the Smoky Mountains. He loved being in WNC whenever he could and often remarked that he never got tired of looking at the mountains.
He is survived by his wife Diana Whitaker; son, Roy Lee Whitaker III (Hillary) and Nathan Linwood Whitaker (Shanna); grandchildren, Holland Emma Whitaker, Kaylee Elise Whitaker, Nathan Linwood Whitaker II and Norah Louise Whitaker. He was preceded in death by his parents.
A memorial service will be held 4:00 p.m. Saturday, May 21, 2022, in the Lowe Funeral Home Chapel by Rev. Chase Robinson. The family will receive friends from 2:30 – 3:45 prior to the service.
Memorials may be made to the First Baptist Church of Burlington at 400 S. Broad St, Burlington, NC 27215 as well as to the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center c/o UNC Health Foundation at P.O. Box 1050 Chapel Hill, NC 27514.
You may send condolences to the family at www.lowefuneralhome.com