May 2, 1930 - March 15, 2021
Richard John Whalen, “Dick”, 90, passed peacefully from this life at his home in Dunedin, FL on March 15, 2021. Our beloved family-man, friend, mentor, boss, patriot, and brother Mason led an active and full life. He made the most of everyday and inspired many through his quiet examples of hard work, commitment, fairness, wit, and wisdom. He devoted himself to his family, his industry, and public service. Although our loss is immense, his time with us enriched our lives with countless intangible and everlasting gifts. He was born in Binghamton, NY on May 20, 1930 to Arthur and Miriam Whalen, raised in the vicinity with his older brother Robert (Bob) and younger sister Norma, and graduated from Binghamton North High School in 1947. The following year he moved to Brier Hill, New York, and went into business with his parents operating a hardware store and gas station. During this period, he also delivered coal and bottled gas, and did electrical, plumbing, heating, and carpentry work. His history of public service, which spanned over seventy years, began in 1943, when he and his brother volunteered for the US Army Air Force Fighter Command Ground Observer Corps. They became certified in aircraft recognition and contributed to the WWII effort as Aircraft Observers. He enlisted in the United States Navy in 1950, and was discharged as a Radioman, First Class Petty Officer in 1954. During his 39 months aboard the USS Oak Hill, LSD-7, he participated in “Operation Ivy”, the first successful full-scale test of a nuclear hydrogen bomb on the Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshall Islands. He married Beverly Silvernell of Binghamton, New York in December 1951. Upon discharge from the United States Navy, he opened a Texaco station in Northern New York and worked as a carpenter on the Saint Lawrence Seaway Project, building the Iroquois Dam. In 1957, he returned to Binghamton to work for IBM in Owego as a Quality Control Technician. He worked in the Flight Test Department at the Broome County Airport, put himself through night school and earned a diploma in Electrical Technology from Broome Technical Community College. In 1963, he transferred to IBM’s Field Engineering Division in Oakland, California until relocating once again in 1969 to Boca Raton, Florida to assume a position as a Service Planning Representative. In 1972, he left IBM, loaded up the truck, Beverly, and the kids, and moved to Dunedin, Florida. There, with his brother-in-law, Edgar Silvernell, a local builder, they built the Dunedin Beach Campground. The 17.5 acre park opened in March 1973 with 9 campsites and eventually grew to 233 sites. He managed the park, and purchased it entirely, in 1981. In 2003, he added “The Blue Moon Inn”, a 9 suite luxury Bed and Breakfast. Both award-winning businesses provided economic stimulus throughout the area, attracting guests from around the world. Dick wore many hats throughout his tenure in the RV industry before retiring in 2009, at the age of 79. He was the heart and soul of the park. He was the brains, the mayor, electrician, accountant, groundskeeper, camp counselor, ditch digger, plumber, host, I.T. guy, and the law, (and a gunslinger early on). He worked tirelessly to provide a clean, safe, and fun camping experience. Long after midnight, he repaired many a pump, wiring, or pipe. He truly loved his “camp family,” and was rewarded with thousands of lasting friendships. In his “spare” time, he became a member of the Dunedin, Clearwater, and Palm Harbor Chambers of Commerce; served on several Tourism, Fund Raising, Ambassador and Membership Committees, and was elected to the Boards of Directors numerous times. He volunteered at many events, including the Art Harvest, Octoberfest, Honeymoon Island Seafood Festival, Fourth of July, and many others where food was served! He was on the Dunedin Council of Organizations’ Board for 5 years, elected 1st Vice President in 2007 and President in 2008. He was appointed by the City Commissioners to the Mobile Home Advisory Board from 2003-2010, the Recreation and Parks Advisory Board, and Liaison to the Marina Advisory Board, 2003-2012. In 2012, he was inducted into the City of Dunedin Senior Hall of Fame. He was a founding member of the Pinellas County Campground Association, serving as its President from 1977-1982. From 1983-2009, he served on the Florida Campground Association Board of Directors, holding all of the Officer positions at various times. He was also a Board Member of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, 1994-2008, holding every Officer position and serving on numerous committees. He was raised to the sublime Degree of a Master Mason November 19, 1987 in Tampa Bay Lodge No. 252 Free and Accepted Masons in Safety Harbor, FL. He held many appointments there and also with The Grand Lodge of Florida, The Suncoast Masters and Wardens Association, and with The Scottish Rite, where he was invested with the Rank and Dignity of a Knight Commander of the Court of Honor and Coronated a 33rd Degree Inspector General Honorary. He also served as President of The North Pinellas Scottish Rite Club, and then as Secretary/Treasurer. In his earlier years, he was a Scoutmaster and active in the Indian Guides. He also sponsored the Dunedin Beach Campground Girls Softball Team from 1973-1977. He and Bev loved to dance and were members of the Aces and Laces Square Dance Club in California and The Bay Area Twirlers in Tampa. Dick is survived by his lovely and devoted wife of 69 years, Beverly Whalen; and their children, Lorna Balint (Mike), Sheri Wilken (Tim), Richard Whalen, Jr. (Mary-Lynn), and Annette Whalen. He also leaves behind 6 grandchildren, Fergus Clark (Stevie), Jenae Clark, Lauren Ehnis (Patrick), Casey Clark (Brittany), Daniel Metcalf (Kelly) and Brian Metcalf; as well as eight great grandchildren. In his service to others, he will be remembered as a sharp, good-natured, and dedicated individual whose efforts touched thousands of lives. For his family, he was the bedrock upon which our lives were built, our guiding star, our magnet. With a will forged of iron, perseverance and courage, he was “True Grit” personified, and so very, dearly loved. In the words of a brother Mason and close friend, “He was a remarkable man”. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made in his name to the Tampa Scottish Rite Masonic Center, 5500 Memorial Hwy, Tampa, FL 33634.
Richard John Whalen, “Dick”, 90, passed peacefully from this life at his home in Dunedin, FL on March 15, 2021. Our beloved family-man, friend, mentor, boss, patriot, and brother Mason led an active and full life. He made the most... View Obituary & Service Information
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