James Nelson Whitehead, age 72, of Houston, TX, passed away on Saturday, November 21, 2020. Jeanne, his wife of 51 years, was at his side. He was born in Chattanooga, TN, grew up in New Orleans, LA, and moved to Nashville, TN, to attend David Lipscomb College where he met Jeanne. He received his undergraduate degree from LSU New Orleans followed by a Master of Arts in Social Work from LSU Baton Rouge. He dedicated most of his life to helping children, working as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker at Christian Child Help Foundation/Spaulding for Children and was currently working at Harris County Protective Services for Children and Adults. However, for the past decade, his favorite title was bestowed by his four young granddaughters who called him Pops.
Jim was a loving husband, father, and grandfather with a kind, even-tempered, gentle spirit. He will be incredibly missed. Food was Jim’s love language. He enjoyed cooking for his family and friends and was passionate about a good meal, especially at Brennan’s. Like his mother, he eagerly welcomed guests with warm meals, crawfish boils or his revered gumbo. Without need for groceries, he would often stroll the aisles of the grocery store as a leisure activity, and especially enjoyed getting coffee with friends. He readily helped care for his mother-in-law, Gram, when she visited Houston, cooking special things for her. He loved his church family and enjoyed meals with them.
Jim was very proud of his children and was fully involved in their lives including school projects, scouts, sports, soap box derby, violin lessons, carpooling and making school lunches. Later he became a sounding board for them and offered nonjudgmental guidance. He was the family historian and extracted genealogy details from family near and far.
He was curious about people and everyone resembled someone to him, in the way that you knew that he took all into account and everyone mattered to him. He was the king of sending articles and pictures to anyone who would listen, and especially to those who didn’t. His interests included World War II history and traveling adventures with Jeanne. He loved anything Louisiana, especially LSU. He considered his West U. Plumb Street friends his extended family and enjoyed good times and traveling with them. He appreciated the newest electronic gadget, listening to NPR in the car, and watching the CBS Sunday Morning news program before going to Bering Drive Church of Christ. Recently, he enjoyed vacationing in the summers at Rosemary Beach with his family and lovingly prepared many meals especially his signature dish, Eggs 30A. He loved Christmas Messiah sing-a-longs, Saturdays without a schedule, fancy caps and hats, and bragged about putting his Christmas lights up in record time. Jim also liked watching television in his big chair, licorice, free swag, and family pets. He enjoyed reading crime fiction in bed, playing favorite songs by Emmy Lou Harris, and finding treasures to purchase for the granddaughters.
He was very sentimental, leaving little notes around for people and never forgetting special days. He often brought flowers home for no reason. He planned a surprise trip back to the site of the first date with Jeanne on their 50th anniversary. He was a willing caregiver whenever called upon, and was known in the last few years to be a diligent patient himself.
In addition to Jeanne, surviving members of his immediate family include son, Will Whitehead (Lauren) and daughter, Claire Whitehead (Kelly), granddaughters Louise, Cecilia, Mavis and Nina, younger brother Chris Whitehead (Kate), and cousin Jacqueline Northcut. He was preceded in death by his parents, Jack and Dimple Whitehead and his older brother Jack Whitehead, Jr (surviving wife, Faye). There is a large extended family of aunts, cousins, nieces, nephews, and many friends and coworkers who will remember his generous heart and warm smile.
A memorial service will be scheduled when we can safely gather together. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Hospitality Apartments of Houston, TX., 7300 Bertner Ave., Houston, TX 77090.