Rick Witherington Jr.

May 28, 1951August 19, 2012

Moffat Patrick “Rick” Witherington Jr., whose career took him from coast to coast and back again, died Aug. 19 in his Charlotte home, surrounded by his adoring sisters and his wife, whose late-arriving romance had revived his joy in life.

Growing up in Statesville, the oldest and only boy among Pat and Harriet Witherington’s four children, Rick was a member of the swim team and a was a water skier of wild abandon. Later, snow skiing, climbing California’s Mount Whitney, and successfully completing the New York City Marathon were all physical pursuits he conquered.

In all other aspects of his life, conquering was never a goal. His greatest talent was showing us all how to love unconditionally. James Hutchens, his long time friend, gave us these adjectives to describe him: Kind. Gentle. Sweet. Highly, highly intelligent. Caring. Generous. Forgiving. Talented. Loyal. Funny. Refined. Curious. A Seeker. A Wanderer. A gentleman...a truly gentle-man. A "man's man" with a soft, silk-covered soul. The man we all wish we could be...but will never will be.

After earning a degree in business administration in 1973 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was a member of Zeta Beta Tau fraternity, Rick began a graduate program at the University of Massachusetts, earning a master’s degree in Resource Economics in 1977. That year, he began his long career at AT&T, first as an economist and public affairs analyst. He spent 20 years in that capacity in New Jersey and California before serving his last five years with AT&T as government affairs vice president, responsible for regulatory and legislative affairs in California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii. Since 2002, he had worked as economics and public affairs analyst at MP Witherington Consulting. His analytical mind and his writing skills served him and his employers well. In 2004, he returned to North Carolina while continuing his consulting business. The move allowed him to reconnect with family and to be close to his father in his final years. M.P. Witherington Sr. died in March 2010. Rick’s mother, Harriet Riley Witherington, died in 1971.

Rick is survived by his wife, Deborah Noland Witherington, whom he married in 2009; his twin sons, Charles Caraganis Witherington and Peter Riley Witherington, both of California; and a stepdaughter, Aimee Sibel Turkdamar of Charlotte. Pete and Charlie came from California to sit beside Rick’s bed in his final two months. Also surviving are his sisters, Ginny Tarleton of Wilson, Ann Stuntz of Durham, and Mary Crawford of Troutman; stepsister, Jane Wiley of Charlotte; stepbrother, Mac Wiley of Tennessee; and his stepmother, Patty Witherington of Statesville.

Also mourning his passing are legions of friends and relatives who knew his broad range of interests, his ability to converse on any topic, his intelligence, and his calm, relaxing demeanor. When he was diagnosed with glioblastoma in January 2011, scores of people rallied to his support, including old friends he had not seen in years and new friends he had never known. About two dozen friends and relatives marched with him in the Angels Among Us fundraiser for the Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke Medical Center in April 2011, soon after his surgery to remove his first tumor.

Family and any friends who wish to join us are gathering at 10:30 a.m. Saturday morning August 25, 2012 at Oakwood Cemetery in Statesville, NC for a graveside service. The larger memorial service will be held in Charlotte at 2:00 p.m. at Myers Park Presbyterian Church on the same day.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke University Medical Center, DUMC Box 3624, Durham, NC 27710.


  • Memorial Service Saturday, August 25, 2012
  • Graveside Service Saturday, August 25, 2012

Rick Witherington Jr.

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August 26, 2012

Ginny, and the entire Witherington family, I remember your family so very fondly from our junior high and high school days together, and was so saddened to hear of Rick's passing. He was lovely as a young man, so I am positive all of the wonderful things I have read that others who have kept up with him all these years are so very true----insightful, intelligent, a gentleman, a "gentle" man, a wonderful father and husband. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you....God Bless....Pamela Beck ( Troutman ) Strandburg, Statesville and Mooresville, NC

Hank Walker

August 25, 2012

I'm so sorry for your loss. Please accept my most sincere condolences.

Marlene Hebert

August 24, 2012

When I heard of Rick's passing, I immediately felt an emptiness. Although, it's been years since I last saw Rick, the memory of him is very fresh in my mind of how much I enjoyed working with him in the AT&T San Francisco office and being in his presence. I'm grateful for knowing him.

Elizabeth Mayhew

August 23, 2012

Mary, Mac and Janie, I am so sorry for your loss. I know first hand how much it hurts to say goodbye to a loved one. You and the rest of your family will be in my prayers.

Elizabeth Ross Mayhew

Wayne Meserve

August 23, 2012

I met Rick in 1978 when I joined AT&T Long Lines in NJ. I had the privilege to work with and for Rick and he was both a gentleman and a gentle man. Although I lost touch with him over time, we did reconnect on Facebook a couple of years ago. He did well in his career but more importantly, he did "good". Emails and FB messages after his illness was diagnosed showed his courage, dignity and faith. We are all a bit poorer for Rick's passing. Sincere condolences to all his family and friends. Wayne & Marilyn Meserve

cricket haake

August 22, 2012

So very sorry to hear of Ricks passing. I never had the pleasure of knowing him. I have been a family friend to his beloved wife for many years and had heard of his journey since his diagnosis. So many loved him! May God's peace and comfort carry each of you through this. May Bright and happy memories comfort you all.

Bill Ettinger

August 22, 2012

I am very sorry for your loss. I had the pleasure of working with Rick both in NJ and CA. What I remember most about Rick was his insightful intelligence and his calm demeanor. It was always a pleasure working with him on a project. He will be missed.

Bill Ettinger

Julian Chang

August 22, 2012

I will miss you Rick. You were a class act all the way. I enjoyed our time working together in AT&T and that we stayed in touch in meaningful ways over the years enriched my life. Rest in peace. The world has lost your calm and brilliant light, but we will never forget you my friend. My deepest condolences to all your family and friends.

Rose Johnson

August 22, 2012

I had the great pleasure to work with Rick at AT&T. He was kind, wicked smart, funny and, above all, a true gentleman in every sense of the word. I was honored to call him friend. He taught me much and made me laugh. The world is surely a better place for him having walked this earth.