James Wade Whatley
30 May, 1942 – 31 March, 2021
James Wade Whatley passed away at his home in Pensacola, Florida on March 31, 2021. Husband to Pamela; Father to Laura, Cheryl, and Wade; Grandfather to Christina, Jessica, Christopher, Brandon, Taylor, Evan, and Michael; and Great-grandfather to Brendan, Owen, Brently, Myla, Christopher, Jr., and Grace. He was a man who was loved by many, and he will be missed.
James was born on May 30, 1942 to Wade and Irene (Lasyone) Whatley in Jena, Louisiana. The family ended up settling in Picayune, Mississippi where he grew up and met his wife, the former Pamela Ann Martinez. After graduating High School, he attended Mississippi State University before enlisting in the Navy in January of 1962. This would be a step that would structure the rest of his, and his family’s, life.
After joining the Navy, James went to school to become a Nuclear Reactor Operator. During his training, between ‘A’ School and Nuclear Power School, he proposed to his sweetheart from home, Pamela. They were wed on June 29, 1963. Upon completion of his training, he was stationed aboard submarines like the USS Nautilus and USS Halfbeak until the Navy asked him to join the NESEP program.
The NESEP program would allow him to complete his college degree at Vanderbilt University and become a Commissioned Officer. From there he would go to complete training and become a Naval Aviator in August of 1969. Upon receiving his wings, he flew the P-3 Orion and was stationed with VP-17, VQ-3, and VP-1 at Barber’s Point Hawai’i, and CTF-72 in Japan. He spent his sea duty as an officer aboard the USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) in Tactical Support. He was also the Commanding Officer of Flight Training Squadron VT-6 at Whiting Field and Executive Officer of NATO Base Keflavik, Iceland (NASKEF). After completing Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, his last duty station was with USCINPAC in Hawai’i. Until his retirement on April 17, 1992, he led a prestigious and decorated Navy career. Between the achievements, decorations, and command posts, he became a father three times over - first Laura, then Cheryl, and finally Wade. The family would follow him to many places – including Florida, California, Hawai’i, and Japan. While he was a career-minded man, there was more to him than that. Being able to show his wife and children much of the world was something that helped shape him into the man we knew out of uniform.
He was a man of the arts, being once a trombonist, and loved Jazz music. He took many opportunities to see live performances and introduced his children to much more than what is popular. He loved the written word and his bookshelves were full of everything from J.R.R. Tolkien to studies in Quantum Physics. His love for the beauty and culture of many places found its way into his home with many fine works of art on display.
He was also a man of nature, having built his first retirement home on the shores of Escambia Bay so he and Pamela could enjoy each sunset that followed. He loved to fish and took the opportunity to go fly fishing whenever he could. The house on the bay also offered the chance to fish and crab and many a dinner was enjoyed at his table thanks to this. Alas, this was not to last. After the tragedy of Hurricane Ivan, James and Pamela moved into the city and remained in Pensacola. While his latter years were not filled with as much travel and excitement as years prior, he did have the opportunity to have his wife, children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren around him as much as possible.
Walt Whitman’s words on President Lincoln’s death could not ring more true to the passing of this great man; “O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells; Rise up - for you the flag is flung – for you the bugle trills, For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths- for you the shores a-crowding,…”
Friday, 30 April , 2021
James Wade Whatley
9 April 2021
I hope it brings you comfort to know that I am celebrating the life Jim lived and am thankful for his impact on my life. He was instrumental in the positive growth of too many to mention. He will be missed by many.
5 April 2021
Although no words can really help to ease the loss you bear, just know that you are very close in every thought and prayer.
3 April 2021
Dear family, I’m so sorry for your loss. Pray God will comfort you during this time