Life Story / Obituary
WHITNEY, William E.
Grand Rapids, MI
William (Billy) Earl Whitney died unexpectedly February 19, 2021, in his home in Grand Rapids, Michigan the town he was born on born July 18, 1957 to the late Earl and Mattie (Lyons) Whitney. He was preceded in death by his step-daughter, Michelle Robinson; brother, Earl Wakefield Whitney Jr.; and niece, Takelia Williams.
Bill attended Ottawa Hills High School in Grand Rapids, and continued his education, earning an associate’s degree in business. He got an early job at Kelvinator appliance company and then worked for years with his dad, Earl Whitney, a longtime employee at Sealy Mattress Company.
Bill will be remembered for his love of all sports, particularly league bowling. He thrived playing softball and played on little league teams as a child and remained active through his adult years with the Sealy Mattress Company team. They called him “Dollar Bill” when he won. He also enjoyed playing cards and was a dashing and debonair dresser.
Billy is survived by his wife, Donna Whitney, of Jacksonville, NC; three children: Spencer Carter, Riwanda (Jason) Smith, and Donte Bryant, all of Grand Rapids, MI; step-children, Vanessa Robinson, Jimmy Robinson, Tasha Robinson; many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Also surviving, William Earl are his sisters, Sabrina Ann Whitney and Carmen (Jerome) LaGrone of Grand Rapids, MI; special Uncle Charles (Rose) Hardiman of Grand Rapids, MI; Edgar (Linda) Lyons of Grand Rapids, MI; Chuck (Beverly) Lyons of Baltimore, MD; James (Mary) Lyons of Bloomington Hills, MI; and equally special aunts: Bertha (Albert, deceased) Lyons-Smith of Chicago, Illinois; Dorothy Lyons of Grand Rapids, MI; Ernestine (Marty) Lyons of Grand Rapids, MI; god-sisters: Robin Matthews and Debra Kendall, both of Chicago, IL; and a host of nieces, nephews and cousins.