Donnie Lee Whitworth obituary photo
 
In Memory of

Donnie Lee Whitworth

February 8, 1955 - March 24, 2015

Obituary


Donnie Whitworth never played a down on the football field, took a shot on the basketball court or stepped to the plate on the baseball diamond.

In fact Donnie Whitworth never attended high school. Because of his intellectual limitations, he only spent one year in elementary school.

But, he always wanted to wear a team's colors, and thanks to an outpouring of love and care from an admiring community, Whitworth, 60, became the proud owner of not just one, but several high school letterman jackets. Just days later, after being put in hospice,...

Donnie Whitworth never played a down on the football field, took a shot on the basketball court or stepped to the plate on the baseball diamond.

In fact Donnie Whitworth never attended high school. Because of his intellectual limitations, he only spent one year in elementary school.

But, he always wanted to wear a team's colors, and thanks to an outpouring of love and care from an admiring community, Whitworth, 60, became the proud owner of not just one, but several high school letterman jackets. Just days later, after being put in hospice, Whitworth died Tuesday night of congestive heart failure.

Whitworth won the affection of many of the folks in Donelson, who for decades, saw him walking miles from his home picking up cans.

They were eager to make Whitworth as comfortable as possible after his diagnosis and willing to do whatever they could to put that familiar smile back on his face.

"Donnie was spoiled rotten, and he would admit it,"said Frank Trew, a friend of Whitworth's since they were children, and who remained by his side until his death. "It was adorable how he used being spoiled to his advantage. He was aware of how much people loved him and used that to his advantage by asking for, and usually getting, whatever he wanted."
One thing Whitworth wanted most, but didn't get until his final days, was a letterman jacket.

He grew up adoring sports. Every Friday night he would attend football and basketball games at old Donelson High, Two Rivers and McGavock.

After Whitworth was moved into hospice care, Trew and other close friends of Whitworth asked what he most wanted.

"Can I have a letterman jacket?," replied Whitworth, who attended first grade at DuPont Elementary (1966-67) and later spent several years at the Clover Bottom Developmental Care facility in Donelson.

Trew spread the word Friday on the Hip Donelson Facebook page, where many already were keeping up with Whitworth's condition.

By Sunday McGavock and Mt. Juliet letterman jackets were delivered to Whitworth's room. On Monday someone brought jackets from Donelson and Two Rivers.

On Tuesday a DuPont jacket showed up.

"Donnie died a happy person because he knew how much he was loved, and if there was any doubt before, those jackets proved just how well-loved he was," Trew said. "The first one came from Mt. Juliet from a young man (Alex Giles) who brought the jacket to Donnie himself. When he walked in the room and we told Donnie what he had, Donnie's face lit up and he got this huge smile. He was so proud to have his jacket, finally."

Giles said his mother, who grew up knowing Whitworth, told him about Whitworth's wish. She wondered if he would be willing to part with his 2013 black and gold letterman jacket?

Giles said he would, provided he got to meet Whitworth. That is why he wanted to personally deliver the jacket.

"One of the people staying with him offered to come get the jacket, but I said I wanted to take it to him personally because I just like making people happy," Giles said. "It's not that often you get the chance to make a person's dream come true, and I wanted to be there when his came true. I will never forget how happy it made him."
, who estimated Whitworth walked eight to 10 miles each weekday since 1975 collecting cans, said everyone in the room burst into tears when Whitworth tried on his new jacket.

When the McGavock jacket was delivered, Whitworth couldn't decide which he wanted to wear the most.

Because Giles had delivered the Mt. Juliet jacket personally, Whitworth, who told Giles he loved him, was partial to it at first. Then he started warming up to the McGavock jacket more and more.

"After he got his jackets, anytime anyone would come to visit, Donnie would put on one of his jackets while they were there to show it off," Trew said. "He was beaming with pride."



Funeral arrangements

Visitation is 4-8 p.m. Thursday at Hermitage Funeral Home and 4-6 p.m. Friday at Donelson Church of Christ, with the funeral to follow at the church. All the letterman jackets given to Whitworth will be on display around his casket.