Obituary for George Whinna III
George W. R. Whinna
George W. R. Whinna, 81, of Loves Park, IL, passed away Tuesday evening, August 15, 2023, in his home, after a brief illness. Born October 22, 1941, in Chicago, IL, son of George W. R. Whinna, Jr., and Roseanna (Kepner) Whinna. Graduated from Harper High School in Chicago and from Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, in 1963, with a bachelor’s degree in history.
Following his graduation from college, George embarked on a 36-year career as a history teacher with the Rockford Public Schools, first for six years at Roosevelt Junior High School; then at Rockford West High School from 1969 until its closing in 1989; and finally at Rockford Auburn High School from which he retired in 1999. George was an outstanding history teacher who immersed his students in the courses he taught, inviting them to not only learn but to experience the lessons through class participation and projects, field trips, and trips to destinations in the United States and Europe. His relationship with his students went beyond the classroom – where, in addition to teaching, he regularly served as class and student council advisor. For many of his students and for the other young people whom he encountered while teaching, his involvement continued as their life-long friend.
George’s excellence as an educator was recognized through his receipt of the American History award from the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1980; the Rotary Award from Rockford Rotary in 1989; being selected for “Who’s Who Among American Teachers”; and being named one of the Top Twenty Teachers of Distinction through the Golden Apple Awards program in 1998. His impact upon thousands of students as a teacher, mentor and friend was immeasurable, as demonstrated through the outpouring of love that he has received over recent weeks once the severity of his prognosis was made public. The messages of gratitude, love, respect and support he has received through visits, phone calls, Facebook and other social media posts, emails, cards, and letters give testimony to what George has meant to the lives of so many.
In addition to his teaching contributions, George single-handedly coordinated and advised students from 13 Winnebago County High Schools to form the Winnebago County Student Bicentennial Committee which, in turn, completed many unique and memorable projects marking our country’s 200th birthday. George was also a member of Winnebago County Retired Teachers Association. He also previously served on the Boards of Directors of Wartburg College and Tinker Swiss Cottage.
George was also a committed and loving son, brother, and relative to his parents, his sister, Charlene, and his extended family. He cared for and was dedicated to them throughout his lifetime, as they were to him. As with his students, George planned and guided tours for his family members on trips that included Great Britain and some of the world’s capitals – where he demonstrated his knowledge of each city, its cuisine and both popular and lesser-known sites – while keeping an eye on the clock to keep each tour moving. At home, he was a welcome holiday guest at his cousin Wally’s home where he brought gifts for his “grand-nieces” and “grand-nephews”, captured the moments on his ever-present camera and shared his great wit and unforgettable laugh.
George is survived by his sister, Charlene Whinna; his cousin, Walter (Margaret) Whinna; and by the countless students and friends whose lives he touched. He was predeceased by his parents.
A celebration of life for George will be from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, September 17, 2023, at Sam's Ristorante, 6075 E. Riverside Blvd., Rockford, IL 61114. Please RSVP with your name and number attending to Whinnacelebrationoflife@gmail.com. Memorial donations may be made to the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois, 946 North Second Street, Rockford, IL 61107, or https://www.cfnil.org/scholarships/george-whinna-memorial-scholarship; please note your donation as being for the “George Whinna Memorial Scholarship Fund”, to support an aspiring history student at Rock Valley College and/or Rockford University. Arrangements by Delehanty Funeral Home, Loves Park, IL.