William Earnest “Bill” Whitfield Jr., born on August 26, 1930 in Oakes, North Dakota, departed this life on December 20, 2020 at the young age of 90. As a child, his very large family moved to Visalia, Ca. where he grew up. Bill rejoins his wife “Nell” who died in 2017. During life, Bill and Nell were inseparable since the time of their “by chance” meeting at a bus stop in downtown Mobile when Bill drove over from his pilot training at the Pensacola NAS for Mardi Gras. They married in 1954 just before he was assigned to Cherry Point, North Carolina, and then on to Guam and Korea. Bill returned in time for the birth of their first son, Billy, and then many months later, “Kimmy”-both born in Cherry Point. Bill was honorably discharged from the Marines in 1957 and thereafter, he and Nell and the children returned to his native California. Their family would expand to add another child “Carrie,” in 1959. Bill and his family returned to Mobile in 1965 where Bill began his undergraduate education at Mobile College to become a Baptist Minister. Later, the Whitfield family would later move to the Louisville, Ky. area where he attended the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Eventually Bill, Nell and the kids returned to Mobile in 1971 to become the first full time pastor of Cypress Shores Baptist Church in the Tillman’s Corner area of Mobile County. Bill pastored at Cypress Shores for 20 years, retired and then later came out of retirement to assume the position of Pastor to Seniors at Dauphin Way Baptist Church, in Mobile. He later retired, again, to care for Nell who developed dementia and then Alzheimers in 2015. His love and care of her is chronicled in a book written about her entitled “Nell’s Journey”.
During his life and career, while pastoring a church fulltime in the 80's, he pioneered efforts at racial reconciliation organizing special Sundays throughout the year called Reconciliation Sunday. Bill actively participated in the mission of the local Mobile Baptist Association, at one time serving as its interim Association Missionary. He continued his post graduate education at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary receiving his doctorate degree in Ministry. Bill was active in the Alabama Baptist Convention and the Southern Baptist Convention and served at one time on the Christian Life Commission known today as the Liberty Commission. Bill remained active in local church life and activities, organizing the [Mobile Baptist] Association Golf Tournament. After the passing of Nell, Bill volunteered at the Mobile Infirmary and led numerous Bible Studies for Seniors at a local nursing home.
Our family rejoices today that Bill and Nell have reunited with their health restored and in the presence of the throne of God. While both struggled with health issues preceding their passing, Bill and Nell are once again joined forever with perfect bodies that only an abiding and unquenchable faith in Jesus Christ can bring. The one thing that Bill loved the most during his life was his family. He would talk nearly every day to his sole surviving brother, Norman Whitfield, who lives in California. He would see at least one of his surviving children, Billy, Kim or Carrie or one of their numerous children (9) or grandchildren (17) nearly every day. Bill and Nell are survived by 3 children, Bill (wife formerly Anita Robertson) who live in Mississippi; Kim Merchant (husband Pat Merchant) who live in Huntsville, Al.; and Carrie Green (husband Calvin Green) who live in Saraland, Al. Bill and Anita have 3 children, Stacey, Will and Mick; Kim and Pat have 3 children, Brooke, Blake and Britanie; Carrie and Calvin have 3 children, Jonathan, Kimberly and Laurel. Bill and Nell’s children “honored” their mother and father as commanded in the scripture and grieve their earthly passing on this day of the celebration of their heavenly reunion and “new life.” On behalf of “Papa”, the entire surviving family would like to express their sincerest appreciation for the loving and doting care and assistance that Carrie and Calvin gave to “Pop” in his last years.
The children of Bill and Nell invite you to a celebration of Bill’s life on December 23, 2020 at 2:00 pm at Dauphin Way Baptist Church. Given these times of uncertainty due to Covid-19, the family invites those that cannot participate to a live stream of the celebration of Bill’s life at the website of Dauphin Way. The family would ask that in lieu of flowers, that a contribution be made to the Dauphin Way United Appeal Fund-a fund that provides charitable assistance to those in need in the Mobile area. Participation in person at the church is limited, so those that cannot participate in person due to reasons of vulnerability or underlying illness, are encouraged to participate “online.”
A church service will be held at 2pm on Wednesday, 12/23/20 at Dauphin Way Baptist Church followed by a committal service at the grave site.