Jack Willhite 1931-2020

Hall of Famer Jack Willhite passed away on September 11th. He was 88 years old.

Willhite founded and was the first coach of the Bemidji High School wrestling program.

He was inducted into the Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association Dave Bartelma Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2001.

Jack Willhite Obituary:

Jack M. Willhite, age 88 of Minnetonka, passed away Friday, September 11, 2020 surrounded by his family at his residence.

A private family funeral with Pastor Monica Hammersten officiating followed by interment in Home Cemetery in Sleepy Eye. A Celebration of Life for the public will be held at a later date. Memorials preferred to Minnesota Special Olympics specialolympicsminnesota.org and Diabetes Incorporated diabetesincoporated.org which helps and supports children with type 1 diabetes. Cards may be mailed to: Kirsten Barraclough, 1129 Lookout Lane, Rapid City, SD 57701. Jack Martin Willhite was born September 14, 1931 in Cedar Rapids, IA, the son of Otto and Lillian (Hertz) Willhite.

Jack was a graduate of Bemidji State University.

On August 6, 1960, he was united in marriage with Karen Anderson in Omaha, NE. This union was blessed with daughters Linnea and Kirsten.

Jack was a high school teacher and coach in Bemidji, Grand Rapids and St. Louis Park. He was founder and initial coach of the Bemidji High School wrestling program.

He was the founder and initial coach of Minnesota Special Olympics. Jack received many awards from Special Olympics including National Coach of the Year in 1988.

He was inducted into the Bemidji State University Athletic Hall of Fame for football. Jack was also named Outstanding Alumni of Bemidji State University.

Jack is preceded in death by his parents; sister Marlene (Jim) Radl. Jack is survived by his loving family: wife Karen Willhite; daughters Linnea (Doug) Mankse of Delano, Kirsten (David) Barraclough of Rapid City, SD; grandchildren Kayla, Hanna, Nick Manske, and Ellie Barraclough; step-grandchild Brandon (Megan) Manske; brothers William (Kaye) Willhite, Robert Willhite; sister-in-law Marty (Dave) Lund; nieces and nephews; other relatives and many dear friends, including his best friend, Rollie Hanks.

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