CLC Hall of Fame coach Larry Whittier dies
Friends, family and former athletes will gather in Libertyville and Mundelein later this week to remember Larry J. Whittier, whose long tenure as College of Lake County's cross country coach earned him a spot in the school's Hall of Fame.
Whitter died Aug. 23 at his home in St. Petersburg, Florida. He was 81.
He served at CLC from 1972 to 1999 as a counselor, instructor and cross country coach. He made it a point to get to know everyone he encountered at CLC, according to friend and former colleague Janet Fisher.
On her first day as a CLC counselor in 1990, Larry walked her across the Grayslake campus to the place where she needed to get her ID badge.
"It should have taken five minutes but it ended up taking around 45," Fisher said. "He knew every person we ran into along the way. He would stop and talk to everyone. He made everyone feel valued and important."
Whittier's impact on the cross country program was undeniable. CLC runners qualified for national competitions in each of the nine years he coached both the men's and women's teams. And for seven consecutive years his teams finished as Skyway Conference champion.
His team's success earned him three Cross Country Illinois Coach of the Year awards and seven Skyway Conference Coach of the Year awards. When he retired in 1999, Whittier became the first cross country coach to be inducted into the CLC Lancers Hall of Fame.
Richard Anderson, a CLC board member since 1974, said Wittier also excelled as a school counselor.
"He always made people feel at ease," Anderson said. "He was very nice, very affable, very approachable."
Anderson knew from experience. He said Wittier was his counselor toward the end of his second year at CLC and helped him transfer to Northeastern Illinois University.
Wittier is survived his wife of 59 years, Diane Wittier, and their four children, Brett, Wade, Thad and Rod.
Fisher said Larry would always brag about his family and eight grandchildren.
"He was incredibly kind and caring," she said. "I've never met another person like him."
A celebration of life ceremony will be held from 6 to 10 p.m. Thursday at Mickey Finn's, 345 N Milwaukee Ave. in Libertyville. A formal service and Mass will be held at 11:30 a.m. Friday at Carmel High School Chapel, 1 Carmel Parkway, Mundelein. All are welcome to attend.