Family:Whitney, John Rogers (1931-2009)

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John Rogers Whitney (Howard Erwin, John Howard, John Leroy, Jacob M., James), son of Howard Erwin and Lydia Elizabeth (Rogers) Whitney, was born 8 Feb 1931, Baltimore, MD, and died 10 Oct 2009, Scotts Valley, Santa Cruz Co., CA.

He married, 1958, California, Jane Mercedes (Salzman) McConnel, daughter of George T. and Josephine A. (Benson) Salzman. She was born 10 May 1928, Winnemucca, NV, and died 26 Jan 2002, Oxnard, CA.

John spent his early years in Lancaster and Montrose, PA. He attended Valley Forge Military Academy in Wayne, PA, 1944-46, and in 1948 he graduated from Franklin Central School in Franklin, Delaware Co., NY.

After a brief enrollment at Cornell University he enlisted in the Navy. A fire control technician, he served four years on the "USS William C. Lawe," the flagship for the 14th Destroyer Squadron. The ship's tours of duty extended above the Arctic Circle and around Cape Horn, South America, as well as to the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. Following his discharge in 1955, he attended California Polytechnic State University, graduating with a degree in mathematics in 1958.

That same year he married and began his work at Canoga Park, CA, with Rocketdyne, which designed and built the rocket engines that powered the Apollo missions to the moon. As manager of scientific computing, Mr. Whitney was in the forefront of technological innovations for Rocketdyne. It was through his guidance that the company transitioned from running computer programs for its aerospace engineers to permitting them to do their own programming.

When Rocketdyne acquired the IBM 360 System computers in the 1960s, Mr. Whitney mastered the system software and was the division's chief software troubleshooter. He also mastered and taught classes in the IBM APL programming language when it came on the scene; and when the IBM PC appeared in the early 1980s, he learned the details of its operating system and acted as a consultant to division personnel. His associates held him in high regard. He retired in 1990. About two years later, he and his wife relocated to Oxnard, CA. He then turned his attention to computer work on extensive family history files and slide shows that incorporated his personal music selections. His lifelong passion was poetry.

Mr. Whitney's wife died in 2002. His brother, Thomas Howard Whitney (adopted), preceded him in death by two months, in August 2009. Both brothers' ashes, along with those of John's wife, Jane, were interred in Ouleout Valley Cemetery, Franklin, Delaware Co., NY, on May 30, 2010.

Children of John Rogers and Jane Mercedes (Salzman) McConnel Whitney:

i. (son) Whitney.


  • Obituary, The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY, weekend edition May 22 and 23, 2010, p. A-5.
  • 1940 Census.

Copyright © 2011, Helen Rogers; 2013, Sally Whitney Goodfellow; and the Whitney Research Group.

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