Kathleen (Martin) Whittaker Print E-mail

Kathleen (Martin) Whittaker

a member of a well-known Lowell family

Kathleen Whittaker (Martin), adored family matriarch, died peacefully on February 2 at age 73. Loved dearly and defined by her generosity, sense of humor and deep commitment to her family, Kathy was a role model and woman to admire.

A native of Lowell, Massachusetts, Kathy was the second of seven children born to Katherine and Rodger Martin in 1949.  The eldest daughter, Kathy spent her early years cultivating a lifelong love of learning and helping to care for her siblings, a boisterous and fun-loving bunch. Her success as a student and Girl Officer at Lowell High School defined those years, until one night in 1966, as a junior, Kathy walked into the Howard Johnson’s in Chelmsford, Mass and met the love of her life, Forrest Whittaker.  In an uncharacteristically bold move, Kathy called Forrest several days later, inviting him to a turnabout dance at Lowell High.  Forrest and Kathy would go on to date long distance while Kathy obtained her BA at Lowell State Teacher’s College and Forrest attended the U.S. Naval Academy. They married shortly after their graduations in 1971, spending their honeymoon driving across country to Huntington Beach, California, where Forrest was to report for his first assignment as an officer in the U.S. Navy.

The roots of their new life quickly took hold.  Together, Kathy and Forrest welcomed three children, Kate, Mike and Susan, moving yearly as Forrest’s military and corporate career developed. Kathy was adept at creating warm and loving homes for her husband and children, wherever the family lived.  Simple pleasures—new friends, homecooked meals around the kitchen table, trips back east and to Sanibel, Florida—made for an idyllic family life.

As a mother, Kathy taught the importance of structure, kindness, hard work, and a healthy dose of mischief.  She loved to tease and be teased and delighted in the telling of a good story.

Moving to Lake Forest, Illinois in the early 1980s, Kathy and Forrest found a forever home.  The many friendships they forged with neighbors, colleagues, Cherokee School parents and her pals from Deerpath Golf Course endure to this day. The homes she created in Lake Forest and most recently in Naples, Florida were joyful and welcoming, always with a door swinging open for guests.

Self-disciplined and a self-starter, Kathy developed many hobbies and interests throughout her life.  Each day began with exercise, often including her famous four-mile walk down Waukegan Road, a perilous route her family strongly discouraged. Golfing, cooking, baking, knitting, and needlepoint kept her hands and mind busy. She believed in learning new skills and about the world, her wisdom and curiosity fueled by thousands of books she devoured throughout her life.

No role was more fitting and enjoyable for Kathy than being “Grammy” to her nine grandchildren. She delighted in the simple joys of holiday fun, talent shows, ice cream runs and lazy days by the pool. Kathy and Forrest took each of their grandchildren on a trip for their eighth birthdays, a favorite family tradition. She took great care in getting to know her grandchildren as individuals, holding them to high standards, encouraging their many interests, and loving them beyond measure.

Kathy will be missed and remembered. She is preceded in death by her parents and brothers, Rodger, James and Peter Martin. She is survived by her husband of 51 years, Forrest, children: Katherine (Daniel) Walsh, Michael (Karoline) Whittaker, and Susan (Michael) Loiacano; nine grandchildren: Caroline, Patrick, Brendan and Rodger Walsh, Forrest, Henry and Thomas Whittaker, and Sophie and Nina Loiacano; siblings: Brian (Elise) Martin, Liz (Kerry) McNamara, and David (Melissa) Martin; sisters-in-law: Linda Martin and Lainey Martin; brother-in-law, Kenneth (Margaret) Whittaker, as well as many godchildren, nieces, nephews, and lifelong friends.

A celebration of Kathy’s life is planned for Saturday, February 11 at 10:00 a.m. at the Church of St. Mary in Lake Forest. In keeping with her request there be no hoopla, Kathy’s family encourages loved ones to remember her by enjoying a long walk, a great meal, a good laugh, or an extra-large Dunkin’s decaf with cream. Local e-condolences may be made at  www.odonnellfuneralhome.com.



Condolences (4)
  • Julie Laughlin Sablone
    Forrest, My deepest sympathy on the passing of your wife, Kathy. I remember you from growing up in our old neighborhood in Chelmsford. Julie
  • Pete and Kari Schneider  - Prayers and blessings
    I got to know and love Kathy through my roommate at Navy, Forrest, who we all called “Whit”. His love for Kathy was evident every day, and several of us made the trek up to Lowell for their wedding and introduction to the Martin and Whitaker clans! While the years and careers separated us, re-uniting with Kathy and Whit at our Navy and Club 34 reunion was very special for us. I treasure many stories about them, and wish both families love, blessings and peace. It’s been a privilege calling both of them friends.
  • Jack Oswald
    Whit, Anne and I would like to convey our deepest sympathy to you and your family. Please let us know if there's anything that we can do for you. R/ Jack and Anne Oswald
  • Dennis and Donna Coffey  - A wonderful life to celebrate
    So very sorry to hear of Kathy's passing. Warm regards to her siblings and extended family. Dennis and Donna
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