FALMOUTH — George Jay Willhoite, 92, of Falmouth, a U.S. Army veteran who survived some of the fiercest fighting of World War II, died Oct. 15.
Willhoite was born March 13, 1922, in Sac City, Iowa, the second son of George Buford Willhoite and Mabel Trumbauer Willhoite.
A child of the Great Depression, he moved as a boy to Mankato, Minnesota, where he lived during his grade-school years, and honed the ice skating skills he would enjoy for many years. His family later moved to Des Moines, Iowa.
Willhoite attended the University of Iowa, where he met his future wife, Betty Jean Peterson. They were married Jan. 12, 1944. Soon afterward, Willhoite was deployed to Europe with the 707th Tank Battalion. He saw action in the Hurtgen Forest and during the Battle of the Bulge. He ended his service with the Allied occupation forces in Germany.
After returning home, Willhoite earned his law degree from the University of Iowa, and then went to work for the Standard Oil Co. of Indiana, known as Amoco. He began his career in the oil fields of Texas, where he and Betty also began their family. A son, Mark, was born in 1951, and son John followed in 1953.
Willhoite worked his way up the ranks at Amoco, moving with his family to Connecticut in 1958 and taking a job at the company’s New York offices. In 1968, Willhoite was transferred to Amoco’s Chicago offices, and his family moved with him to Glenview, Illinois. He retired as director of foreign compensation, having traveled the world on the company’s behalf.
During retirement in the 1980s and ’90s, Willhoite spent many years as a volunteer at the Art Institute of Chicago and at Chicago’s Adler Planetarium. He was an avid photographer and painter, and could often be spotted bicycling through the streets of Chicago and the shore of Lake Michigan, looking for subjects. And in winter, he and his son Mark could often be found skating on Chicago’s public rinks.
In 2005, the Willhoite family moved to Falmouth, where he took an active role in the community and continued to pursue his passions for photography and painting. More than anything, he enjoyed spending time with his family, especially at gatherings at which grandchildren and other relatives could come together.
Willhoite is survived by his wife of 70 years, Betty, of Falmouth; a son, Mark, of Falmouth; a son and daughter-in-law, John and Beth, of Freeport; a grandson, Peter, of San Francisco; and a granddaughter, Sarah, of New York City.
Graveside services will be held at Iowa State University, in Ames, Iowa, during November.