Tonita, also known as “Tom” or “Tonnie” was born in Crawford, NE to Clair and Leona Anderson on July 17, 1939. She has one younger sister Sandra Torrey. Tonita grew up on a ranch north of Harrison and graduated from Sioux County High School in 1957 and started teaching kindergarten at a country school. She loved children and enjoyed teaching.
She and Joe Whiteaker were married December 31, 1959. She worked as a legal secretary for W.E Mumby at the law firm in Harrison. After having children she became a stay at home mother until she started working part time for her father in law, Abie, at Whiteaker’s Store.
Tonita loved her family and was devoted to her grandchildren: Kaili, Claire, Joe, Ellie and Mark. She loved to have the grandchildren visit and stay for a week or more at a time. She had a strong Christian faith and lived her life and raised her family to love the Lord.
Tonita would have turned 80 on the 17th. Thankfully an early birthday celebration was planned in Harrison on the 13th. Family and friends were in attendance to reminiscence and wish her well. Tonita passed peacefully in her home July 15th after a long battle with COPD. She is survived by her husband Joe Whiteaker, her son Greg Whiteaker (Ferdinita), her daughters Jodi Richardson (Jerry), Jill Dunn (Skip), grandchildren Kaili, Joe and Mark Whiteaker, Claire and Ellie Richardson and step granddaughters Frenzy and Gholda. She is also survived by her sister Sandra Torrey.
Services will be Friday July, 19 at 10 a.m. at the Harrison Bible Church. A memorial has been established for the Harrison Bible Church and donations may be sent to Chamberlain Chapel, PO Box 970 Chadron, NE 69337.