Newburyport, MA — On March 30, 2014, the Saints Came Marching In for Leonard "Skip" Whitmore, 81, who died at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Skip was the husband of Jane (Jendraszek) Whitmore.
Born May 24, 1932, in Salem, Mass., he was the son of Charles and Sylvia (Trojanowski). He grew up in Lynn, before enlisting in the Coast Guard in 1951, during the Korean War. Skip served on the U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Eastwind as a radio operator and took part in the secret mission to build Thule Air Force Base in Greenland, an early warning radar station during the Cold War. On February 18, 1952, Skip was the on-duty radio operator that received the first distress signals of the Pendelton and Fort Mercer, two ships whose hulls had simultaneously split off the coast of Boston during a severe winter storm. Skip helped coordinate the Coast Guard's search and rescue operations by maintaining communications between the search parties and floundering ships. The events of that day were made into a book and the authors reached out first to Skip for information about the rescue efforts. The story is now being made into a motion picture by Disney Studios.
After completing his Coast Guard service, Skip returned to Lynn where he married his first wife, the late Nancy Santos. In 1967, Skip married Jane Jendraszek and began working for Montgomery Ward. After living in Buffalo, N.Y., and Hadley, Mass., Skip moved his family to Byfield, Mass., in 1974, and opened the Montgomery Ward franchise in the Port Plaza in Newburyport.
In addition to his business connections to the community, Skip was active in local education and community events. He was president and founder of the Triton Music Parents Organization that supports the arts and music at Triton Regional High School. Skip also was an early supporter of the Amesbury community gardening initiative, planting vegetables and flowers on public garden plots. Skip enjoyed boating, gardening, cooking, and trumpet playing as well as spending time with his family and friends.