At the moment I write this column, it is a beautiful Friday morning overlooking Butternut Creek Golf Course. A single ray of sunshine is illuminating the mountaintop out my window. Men and women are gathering in the pro shop and stepping outside to take a few last minute practice swings. Golf carts are winding their way around the cart path. It is the day of the Derrick Whittle Memorial Golf Tournament, and it feels like our old friend is right here with us.
Derrick, our friend who was killed in the line of duty, was known and loved by so many. As I considered writing this piece, I almost felt unworthy because truly, Derrick and I were not the best of friends nor did we spend a lot of time together. But therein lies the beauty of this man. I believe that anyone can leave a lasting mark on their family and closest friends when they are gone, but it takes someone very special to leave a lasting mark on those they encountered less. Simply put, Derrick had a big heart, a giving heart and lived life in a way that all could admire.
Jim and Sharon Whittle, Derrick’s parents, have tirelessly worked to keep the memory of Derrick alive in our community. Today’s tournament, which raises money for local scholarships, is just one of many ways they are continuing the work of their son in the place he called home. Union County is so fortunate to have been blessed with Derrick Whittle. Today we continue to be blessed with the presence and work of Jim and Sharon.
As a flock of white doves flies over the golf course, I am reminded of the love that Derrick shared with so many in this community and the peace it brings all of us in knowing that he remains in our hearts forever.