Senior SpotlightSep 14, 2023 12:18PM ● By Olivia Rees
Craig Whitear, born to Don and Veva, is a native Morganite who grew up in Peterson where the family ran a dairy for over 35 years. A couple states away, Valerie was raised in Inglewood, California to Kay and Margaret Rohner since her maternal and paternal grandparents had originally migrated to the L.A. area during the Great Depression seeking employment.
From a very young age, Valerie could be found singing and dancing. Attending Inglewood High School, Valerie was heavily involved with school activities and cheerleading. Back then, as Valerie shared, women did not have the opportunity to play sports, so she took every other opportunity she could cheering and doing many productions for her local church stake through acting, singing, and dancing. The church involvement in that area “had a great group of kids” but was relatively very small in numbers compared to Morgan County, said Valerie. “Living in California brought its own challenges, as you could very well guess. So as soon as I could, I went to school out of state to Ricks College, so I could have fun with others who thought like me. That was a wonderful experience! I was selected to do what I love best, which was singing and dancing with a group called ‘The Freedom Singers.’ This group was sponsored by Ricks College. We performed in Idaho, Utah, and traveled to the Mid Eastern States to perform. We danced and sang in multiple shows and performances, as a missionary arm for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I then transferred to BYU the next year.”
It was at BYU where Craig and Valerie met and were subsequently married that summer. Following the union, Craig returned to school at BYU while Valerie worked at a jewelry store as a salesman. Expecting their first child, LaChere, life soon took a different turn than the Whitears planned. Craig's father needed help with the farm because of health issues, so Craig decided he would return home and not finish his education to help his family. For Valerie, it was a big change living in a small farming community compared to living in L.A., but she loved it and the people. “We have never looked back,” said the Whitears.
Despite moving to a small town, Valerie kept herself involved in singing and performing opportunities. In addition, she had the opportunity to serve in several capacities including the Dairy Wives President, Farm Bureau Women's President, as well as presiding in several church organizations. Only just recently retiring from teaching Reading at Morgan Elementary School for 30 years, Valerie taught for more than 40 years combined between school, church, and dance classes.
“One of my most treasured accomplishments,” said Valerie on behalf of the Whitears, “is raising a family of five girls and one son. This wonderful crew kept me very busy with teaching, guiding, sewing, cooking, activities of all kinds, and course cleaning up after them. All in all, it made for a pretty full beautiful life. I have 30 grandchildren who I adore, and I am so privileged to call them my family. I enjoy watching every single one of them in all their activities. I especially enjoyed being involved with the very talented dancers, THE FAB FIVE! The Fab Five, are my daughters, who were finalists on America's Got Talent in 2009. Ultimately, more important than my children's talents, I am most pleased by the people all my children have become.” The Whitear kids are as follows: LaChere and Randy Whitear, Vawdrey Shaundalee Roger Morgan, Ayrion and Brett Myers, Cambria and Michael Gibson, Dallin and Megan Whitear, and Veva and Craig Ahlstrom. Not only focusing on living family members, but Craig is also heavily invested in genealogical work. He currently spends a lot of time on the computer looking for ancestors to do temple work for and can be found on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 6 a.m. to noon volunteering in the temple. λ