Colonel James Lee Whitlow, USMC Retired – also known by his Marine Corps call sign "Outlaw" – died peacefully at his home in New Bern, North Carolina early Sunday morning, June 9, 2013.
Col. Whitlow is survived by his loving wife, Mary Louise Whitlow and his three children: Katie Paschal and her husband John Paschal of Raleigh, NC; Captain James D. Whitlow and his wife Sarah Whitlow of Hampstead, NC; and Laura Helen Murray and her husband Scott Murray of Hillsborough, NC. He is also survived by his sister Suanne Buck and husband, Joe Buck, of Marietta, GA; his sister Debbie Ojeda of Georgetown, TX; and his brother John Whitlow of Marietta, GA; sister-in-law Elaine Kendall of Dillon, MT; and brother-in-law David Beck of Montoursville, PA. He is preceded in death by his parents David and Helen Louise Whitlow.
Col. Whitlow was born on August 12, 1946 in Denver, Colorado and was raised in Edna, Texas from the age of five. After attending the University of Texas at Austin, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in February 1968. He graduated from UT-Austin in 1975 with a bachelor's degree in business management. He married Mary Louise Beck in her hometown of Williamsport, Pennsylvania on December 31, 1976. He and his family have lived in Washington, D.C., Montgomery, Alabama, and Stuttgart, Germany, but their primary residence and strongest roots are in New Bern, North Carolina.
Col. Whitlow is a decorated war veteran, serving 31 years in the United States Marine Corps. After graduation from Officer Candidate School, Col. Whitlow was selected for Air Force Pilot Training and attended flight school at Randolph Air Force Base, graduating in June of 1970. He transitioned to Navy wings and the A6E Intruder shortly thereafter. Col. Whitlow served one combat tour in Vietnam and held numerous positions within various squadrons, at different times holding the titles of Group Legal Officer, Squadron Aircraft Maintenance Officer, and Squadron Operations Officer, to name just a few.
Col. Whitlow served as Executive Officer and then Commanding Officer of VMA(AW)-533 from 1986 to 1989. He was then admitted to the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base, from which he graduated in 1990. Following graduation, he was promoted to Colonel, and served as Executive Officer of Marine Air Group 14 and then as Commanding Officer of Marine Air Group 40, including a tour during the Persian Gulf War. He was Chief of Staff of Headquarters, Marine Forces Europe from July 1994 until July 1997. He was assigned to the 2d Marine Air Wing at Cherry Point as G-3 in August 1997, and then became Assistant Wing Commander.
Col. Whitlow retired from the Marine Corps in 1999. The accolades he received during his esteemed career are too numerous to list, but include the Navy Achievement Medal, the Air Medal (five times), the Meritorious Service Medal with gold star, and the Legion of Merit with gold star. The discipline, patriotism, and leadership he learned in the Marines never left him, as friends and family will attest.
Col. Whitlow was known as much for his exemplary military service as he was for being an exemplary member of his community. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus and the Intruder Association. He was also a member of St. Paul Catholic Church, where he served on the Stewardship Committee.
Col. Whitlow had many hobbies and interests, including working on his prized Triumph TR-6 convertible, playing tennis, spending time on his boat, playing guitar, smoking brisket, and enjoying a good beer with his closest friends and family. In retirement, he enjoyed spending more time with his family on the water and on the back porch.
Col. Whitlow was a man of strong conviction with a gentle heart, a man with a warm disposition but a cool demeanor, and a man of both confidence and humility. He managed to combine a commanding presence with an irresistible charm. He lit up every room he was in and had a way of personally connecting with everyone he met, always maintaining a twinkle in his eye. He was a best friend to his wife and a hero to his children. He will be deeply and sorely missed by all who knew him.
The family will receive visitors at Cotten Funeral Home from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Tuesday. The service will be held at St. Paul Church at 11:00 a.m. Wednesday. Following the service, Col. Whitlow will be interred in a family plot at St. Joseph's cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to St. Paul Catholic Church 3005 Country Club Rd., New Bern, NC 28560 or the ALS Association 27001 Agoura Rd. Ste. 250 Calabassas Hills, CA 91301 or by phone 1-888-949-2577.
Online condolences may be made to the Whitlow famly at www.cottenfuneralhome.com