Robert ‘Eli’ Whitney, born in New Rochelle, NY in 1957 to Horace Burton and Marjory Mackay Whitney on May 14 “Eli” has passed on to the next stage in his journey on January 26, 2023. Raised in upstate New York, he graduated from Fayetteville-Manlius High School in 1975 with no honors to mention. He then went on to Maine Maritime Academy and graduated in 1980 after the completing the 5-year program. The school was only 4 years, but the leadership of the school admired his “party style” and asked him to take a year off and then come back again. He finally graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Marine Engineering and a third assistant engineer’s license. He went to sea for a few years making several trips to South America and then settling down in the oil fields in the Gulf of Mexico. After 2 years working in Mexico, he “came ashore” and worked as a technical representative for E.G. & G Sealol installing the stern tube seal on the Navy’s submarine fleet. He then found a career in the hydraulic world. He worked in this field from 1986 until he retired in 2023 completing many, many projects.
But work was by no means his passion. He loved his family beyond comprehension. He always felt so lucky to have met his wonderful wife, Susan, and was so glad she chose him to be her husband in 1987. They had two wonderful boys, Maxwell Miles and Dillon Cooper who have grown into very fine young men with families of their own, Max and his wife Chelsea and their son Reece Graham, and Dillon and his wife Emma, and their daughter Isla Sarah.
As much as he loved his family, he loved life. One would have to say his favorite recreational past time was sailing. He was a member of the Newport Yacht Club and owned the same boat for 40 plus years, “Swizzle Stick”. He, Susan and many, many friends spent countless hours on “the Swizzle” racing around the beer cans and generally having a great time. He was involved with the Boy Scouts of America, watching both his sons and many others develop as young men and many of them achieving the rank of Eagle Scout. He also gave back to the community as the President of the Newport Yacht Club Endowment Fund.
Besides his wonderful family and work projects, he will be remembered for the parties he threw, the laughs he was part of, the tricks he played, and the friends he made. There will be one last celebration for Eli at The Common Fence Point Community Center (933 Anthony Rd, Portsmouth, RI) on February 26th from 2:00 to 4:00 pm.
In Lieu of flowers Eli would love you to take a loved one out on a date and share a laugh in his memory. Smooth sailing.