Lieutenant General Orren R. Whiddon

March 10, 1935March 20, 2016
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Lieutenant General Orren Ray “Cotton” Whiddon passed peacefully into the arms of the Lord, March 20, 2016 surrounded by family and friends after fighting the good fight. He was born March 10th, 1935 to the late Cynthia Betty Cockrell Whiddon and Orren Cox Whiddon in Joaquin, TX as a fifth generation Texan.

General Whiddon graduated from Stephen F. Austin University with a BA in Chemistry in 1955 and was drafted into the US Army as a Buck Private. Upon completion of Officer Candidate School in 1956, he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant, Field Artillery. He also holds a Master of Science degree in Management from the University of Southern California. His military education includes completion of the Field Artillery School Basic and Advanced Courses, The United States Army Command and General Staff College and the Naval War College, Newport, RI.

General Whiddon served in a variety of career building assignments including Ft. Sill, OK; Vicenza, Italy; and Ft. Leavenworth, KS. His first tour in Vietnam was as a Subsector Advisor in the Mekong Delta and later as the Intelligence Briefing Officer to General Westmoreland. Upon returning to the US, he was the Operations and Plans Officer, Joint Reconnaissance Center, Operations Directorate, J3, Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington, DC. In his second tour in Vietnam he served as the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, G2, 101st Airborne Division and later commanded 3d Battalion, 82d Artillery, 196th Infantry Brigade. Upon return to the United States, General Whiddon served as a staff officer in the Current Operations Division, Operations Directorate, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans, United States Army, Washington, DC.

Following his studies at the Naval War College, General Whiddon commanded the 2nd Battalion, 92nd Field Artillery, 42nd Field Artillery Group in Giessen, Germany. He then served as a Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Mons, Belgium. General Whiddon commanded the Division Artillery, 5th Infantry Division, Fort Polk, LA, after which he served as the Deputy Director of Training in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff of Operations and Plans, United States Army, Washington, DC.

Other key assignments held include Assistant Division Commander, 3rd Armored Division in Europe; Commanding General, United States Army Training Support Center, Fort Eustis, VA.; Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Intelligence, Allied Forces Central Europe (AFCENT), The Netherlands; Commanding General, 8th Infantry Division, United States Army Europe, Bad Krueznach, Germany; and Deputy Commander in Chief for Joint Plans and Operations Forces Command, Fort McPherson, GA. General Whiddon retired in 1990 as Commanding General, Second United States Army, Fort Gillem, GA.

Awards and decorations General Whiddon received include the Distinguished Service Medal (two Oak Leaf Clusters), Defense Superior Service Medal (one Oak Leaf Cluster), Legion of Merit (three Oak Leaf Clusters), Bronze Star Medal (two Oak Leaf Clusters), Meritorious Service Medal (four Oak Leaf Clusters), Air Medal (five Oak Leaf Clusters), Army Commendation Medal (two Oak Leaf Clusters), Army Good Conduct Medal (one Oak Leaf Cluster), National Defense Service Medal (one Oak Leaf Cluster), Vietnam Service Medal (three Oak Leaf Clusters), Army Service Ribbon (one Oak Leaf Cluster), Overseas Service Ribbon (five Oak Leaf Clusters), Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Unit Citation, Vietnamese Staff Honor Medal, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry (with Palm), Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry (with Gold Star) and Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry (with Silver Star). General Whiddon is authorized to wear the Combat Infantry Badge, Parachutist Badge, Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge, and Army General Staff Identification Badge.

General Whiddon was inducted into Stephen F. Austin University’s Alumni Hall of Fame in 1988, awarded the Angelina Rotary Club’s Paul Harris Fellow Award and “Service Above Self” Award in 2005 and the Angelina Award by the Lufkin/Angelina County Chamber of Commerce in 2014. He was a longtime supporter of SFA’s ROTC program and the Howitzer fired at SFA home games, Ol’ Cotton, is named in his honor.

After retiring in 1990, Cotton and the love of his life, Harriot McKinney Whiddon, began the second adventure of their lives in Lufkin, Texas. His leadership and ability to inspire others led to his work with and development of the PineCrest Retirement Community and Salvation Army Adult Day Care Center. His work in the community also included serving on the City’s Planning and Zoning Board, the St. Cyprian’s Episcopal School Board, the Methodist Retirement Communities Board and the Methodist Retirement Trust Board. He was a Senior Warden for St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church. Cotton loved Lufkin, and Lufkin loved him.

He was preceded in death by his beloved parents, Cynthia Betty Cockrell Whiddon and Orren Cox Whiddon, and brother Richard Abner Whiddon. He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Harriot McKinney Whiddon; son, Orren Prentice Whiddon of Artemas, PA; daughters, Laura Whiddon Shortell and husband Joe Ross Stutts of Dallas, TX; Barbara Whiddon Chandler and husband James B Chandler of Allen, TX; four grandchildren, Orren Anders Whiddon, Pittsburgh, PA; Joseph Henry Shortell III, Dallas, TX; Catharine Theodosia Whiddon, Artemas, PA; Skylar James Chandler, Allen, TX; sister, Susan Karen Whiddon, Joaquin, TX; sister-in-laws, Susan Prentice McKinney of Nacogdoches, TX and Jean Tyler Whiddon of Hideaway, TX; and numerous nieces and nephews.

We’d like to thank “Cotton’s Angels”, Norma, Evia, Bonnie, Brenda, Crystal and Ruth; LTC Francis Jackson; the staff and caregivers at Hospice in the Pines; Memorial Home Health; and all the doctors who cared for him, especially Dr. Kyle Krohn.

Funeral services are scheduled for 10am, Saturday, March 26, 2016 at St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church, Lufkin and burial with full military honors at 3pm at The Joaquin Cemetery, Joaquin, Texas. Visitation will be held on Friday evening, March 25, 2016 in the Gipson Funeral Home, Lufkin, Texas.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Hospice in the Pines, 1504 W Frank Ave, Lufkin, TX 75904 or The Salvation Army Adult Day Care Center, 412 S 3rd St, Lufkin, TX 75901 or the charity of your choice.

Funeral Services are under the direction of Gipson Funeral Home, 1515 South Chestnut Street, Lufkin, Texas 75901. For additional information, call 936/634-4411.


  • Visitation Friday, March 25, 2016
  • Funeral Service Saturday, March 26, 2016

Lieutenant General Orren R. Whiddon

have a memory or condolence to add?

Howard Wilcox

October 16, 2017

I worked for General in 1983 at US army Element in AFCENT, Netherlands. He was a truly great officer and human being.

Terry Powers

June 18, 2016

I had to brief the big guy several times as a staff officer at 8th ID in BK. I was new to the HQ and was not sure how it would turn out the first time. He was great!!! So sorry to hear of his passing, he was a true southern gent.

George Stone

April 12, 2016

Dear Whiddon Family (and Laura),

Ironically, I was looking to see if a friend of mine was still teaching at Stephen F. Austin and for whatever reason, I googled your dad---which is when I saw this announcement.

Although I only met him twice (I think), I was always immensely impressed, not only with what he'd achieved in the military, but what he'd achieved as a man. I only wish I had gotten to know him better because (most likely) we were on the same wavelength in many many ways. His passing thus makes me very sad---at the loss (for this country) in terms of his leadership and heroism---and, because he was a beloved husband, father, and grandfather.

You can thus be forever proud of the esteem with which everyone else held him---and that is generally the best indication of the quality of a person. I haven't read any of the other threads but I can just imagine that most echo a similar sentiment.

Laura, I remember how absolutely devastated I was when my father passed away, rather suddenly, 30 years ago. I will never forgot the kindness and compassion you showed me then, at what was surely the lowest, most disconsolate point in my life. Indeed, I have (rather thankfully) not experienced such a stinging loss since. Nonetheless, I just want you to know that my prayers are now with you and your family.

In closing, I am grateful to be able to pay my respects, particularly since the occasion of my discovery of your dad's passing was "purely a randomly assigned event." Actually, I don't believe that at all. The guiding hand of God is at play here somewhere and I believe He led me here.

God speed to all of you.

Al Jones

March 30, 2016

What a great soldier! And what a wonderful wife and Lady. It was my honor to serve with him when he commanded the 2nd US Army and to be a part of the Methodist Retirement Communities Board. He lead by example with unequaled integrity. Al Jones

Mike Parker

March 30, 2016

An American treasure and great man in my life. One of the biggest men I knew... and he was tall too. He will be missed.

Ronda Rollins

March 28, 2016

Harriet I am so sorry for your families loss. You both always showed what real love was suppose to be.He was a gentle man and I will miss him. Ronda Rollins

March 28, 2016

Harriet, I am so very happy to have had the pleasure of meeting you and Cotton! He was a wonderful, down to earth man who loved people, and who loved giving back to his community. It was a true honor to have served him, and God bless you and your family!
Love, Joi D. Ham

Jim McDaniel

March 26, 2016

From those who served with you in Giessen, Germany, Rest in Peace. Jim McDaniel, LTC (Ret)

Rita Redd

March 26, 2016

A great man who will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers with the family.

American Legion Auxiliary Unit#113

Bill and Kathy Baker and Family

March 25, 2016

May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.