In memory of Patricia Ruth (Jenks) Whittier

Born: March 15, 1944
Died: May 11, 2010

Patricia Ruth Whittier, 66, of East Lansing, Michigan, died on Monday, May 11, 2010. Pat was born March 15, 1944 to Milton Arnold Jenks and Ruth Preston Jenks in Providence Rhode Island and was valedictorian and graduate of Plant High School in Tampa, Florida where her parents retired. She received her Bachelors degree at Florida State University. She married Herbert L. Whittier, of Ashtabula, Ohio on September 2, 1965 in Tampa Florida and the two of them moved to East Lansing where she earned her Masters and Ph.D. degrees in Anthropology at Michigan State University with her field work in Southeast Asia funded as a Fulbright Scholar. She studied the Indonesian language at the Cornell University as an NDFL scholar and also at the University of Michigan.

Pat was a social anthropologist and did fieldwork with Herb in Indonesian and Malaysian Borneo with tribal populations. They and their children lived for two and a half years in Surabaya, Indonesia (1979-1981), where she taught at the International School. They also spent a year (1983) in Nepal at Tribhuvan University’s Institute of Agricultural and Animal Science in Rampur. In Michigan, as a professor she taught at Michigan State University in the Department of Anthropology, was managing editor for the Medical Anthropology Quarterly: International Journal for the Analysis of Health, and also served as assistant director of the Center for Women in International Development. In addition, for 16 years she was the editor of the MSU Institute of International Health Newsletter. In a later career move, she left MSU and joined the staff of Lansing Community College where she taught accounting for 15 years. As a teacher and scholar she nurtured and contributed much to the careers of her colleagues, students and friends; her unassuming intellect was invaluable to all who worked with her and appreciated by all who knew her. She was an accomplished poet and a master of the English language as well as a specialist in scientific methodology. Her editorial touch was felt by many of the publications and dissertations produced at Michigan State University.

She was not only a world traveler and a scholar, she toured parts of the US and Michigan on BMW motorcycles, with a preference for vintage bikes, with her husband and sons. Finally, she was a devoted wife, mother, and friend, whose touch will influence her family and others for many years to come.

Surviving Pat are her husband Herbert L.Whittier and her two children, Robert W. Whittier of Chicago, Illinois and James P. Whittier of East Lansing, Michigan.

There was no formal funeral ceremony or memorial service; instead a wake was held at the Whittier home in East Lansing., and was attended by many of Pat’s close friends. The family would like contributions be made to The Arc of Michigan, 1325 S. Washington Ave., Lansing, 48910 in lieu of flowers. The family is being served by the Gorsline Runciman Funeral Homes, East Lansing. Online condolences may be sent at: