October Time to Care Winner: Dr. David Whittaker

News 12 at 6 o'clock , October 7, 2009

AUGUSTA---Time to meet our Time To Care winner for October. He's a local doctor who got a diagnosis that would slow most of us down. Instead, Dr David Whittaker is leading a life that challenges all of us to redefine the way we think about retirement.

The still photo is not the face you might expect. He's in a t-shirt and a cap and it looks like he started the day without a shave. He's a man on a mission for his church in Honduras. He's an orthopedic surgeon just as comfortable in his workshop as he once was in the operating room. This is the David Whittaker you need to meet.

We surprised him in his pastor's office at Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church in Augusta. Parkinson's surprised him too. It was 2001. But he refused to let it slow him down.

"I've lost my voice because I have Parkinson's," Whittaker says. "If I sound hoarse or you can't hear me, it's because of that."

Because of his illness, Dr. Whittaker can't do surgery anymore, but he still volunteers at MCG teaching anatomy. He talked about the morning session he just led.

"We dissected a hand today and talked about different surgeries you can do on a hand."

And when he's not teaching, David Whittaker is on a mission. He's been on four trips so far to places like Jamaica, Mexico and Honduras.

"I just felt like I needed to pay back," Whittaker says. "You know. Life's been good to me, so I started volunteering with Habitat For Humanity.

At Habitat- this 69 year old volunteer does whatever needs doing. He doesn't mind the physical labor at all.

"Not really, I'm not supposed to get on roofs anymore since I fell through one," he says with a laugh.

And if his life of service isn't impressive enough, consider this. He's done all this since having heart by-pass surgery.

Dr. Leslie Holmes is David's pastor. "He's a man with a servants heart, I suspect from the time he gets up in the morning, 'til he goes to bed at night," Holmes tells us.

Sandee Whittaker sums it up simply. "He is the kindest man I know."

Sandee knows David Whittaker better than anyone else. They've been married 45 years. "David is motivated by something most people are not motivated by. It's not power, it's not wealth. David is motivated by service," Sandee says.

And Dr. Whittaker is a woodworker too. And a modest one at that.
"Um, I make a lot of sawdust," he says, breaking the room into laughter.

He makes sawdust, but he also makes a difference. "I will tell you what," Dr. Holmes says, "this city is a better city because David Whittaker is a citizen in it. If we had even ten David Whittakers we'd turn this city around completely in a number of terrific ways."

Doctor. Habitat volunteer. Man on a mission. And somehow he still finds time to play golf and tennis. At 69 years old, he shows no signs of slowing down. He has his own definition of the word elderly. He says that would be anybody fifteen years older than you are.

Dr. David Whittaker, our Time To Care winner for October. We want to thank our Time To Care partners who make this award possible. Subway and Troy University. If you want to nominate someone, you can do that right here on wrdw.com.

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