Alvin Whitmer

Alvin Harvey Whitmer, 95, of Hettinger, peacefully completed his earthly journey on April 23, 2019. Al, as he was known to many, was born to William and Anna Whitmer in Grandfield, Oklahoma on February 9, 1924, the youngest of four children. In 1941, while working in Colorado cutting down Christmas trees, he heard of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and immediately returned home hoping to convince his mother to sign for him so he could join the Army Air Corps. She refused, so he enlisted on his 18th birthday in 1942, with high hopes of becoming a fighter pilot. He completed his solo flight, but was instead assigned to aircraft engine repair. Al’s enlisted time ended being stateside, yet it also forever changed his life, as his first assignment was to a temporary base in Jamestown, North Dakota where they were housing Airmen in the college dorms.  

Following his honorable discharge he returned to those Jamestown College dorms and earned a Bachelor of Science degree.  On campus he met Dorothy McNeil of Hettinger, whom he married in 1950. Alvin and Dorothy lived in Jamestown, Minot, and Crosby before settling in Hettinger in 1956, where they would raise their four children. Alvin built their family home near the McNeil farm, doing all the carpentry, wiring, and plumbing himself. He retired from his position of Purchasing Agent at the hospital in Hettinger 30 years ago. Following retirement he spent hours doing wood working in order to create many cabinets, planters, and frames from reclaimed barn wood. Al had an incredible memory, and remained aware and conversational to his last moments.  

Alvin married Mary Wanner Johnk in 1976, having been widowed since 1970. They enjoyed many trips to Blue Grass Festivals and concerts in retirement. He was a member of the Hettinger United Methodist Church, where he was an active layperson and served in various capacities. In 2018 he was awarded a lifetime membership in the West River Shrine Unit. Al was very appreciative of the care he received from the personnel at Western Horizons Living Center, and even on his last morning thanked and engaged with his caregivers. 

Those sharing in his life are his wife Mary, his four children Gayle Myers (David), Lou Whitmer, Ross Whitmer, and Neil Whitmer (Cynthia); Mary’s children Tracy Johnk, David Johnk, and Jennifer Seamands (Wayne); ten grandchildren, ten great grandchildren; nephews Eugene, Charles, and Jim Whitmer. He was preceded in death by his first wife Dorothy McNeil, his stepson Daniel Johnk, and his nephew Tom Whitmer. 

A prayer service with Masonic rites is scheduled for Sunday May 5, 2019, at 7PM, and a celebration of life and memorial service will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Monday May 6, 2019. Both services will be held at the Hettinger United Methodist Church, Rev. Duane Coates officiating.  Evanson Jensen Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements and condolences to the Whitmer family can be sent through our website at