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Dr. David Melvin Whisnant
January 24, 1943 ~ August 14, 2023 (age 80) 80 Years Old
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It is with great sadness that we announce the death of David “Dave” Melvin Whisnant, a distinguished and much loved professor at Wofford College. He died on Monday, August 14, 2023, at the age of 80 after a battle with Glioblastoma Brain Cancer.
David was born on January 25, 1943, to Donald Melvin and Edna Fortner Whisnant in Cisco, Illinois. He attended nearby Monticello High School, where he played both football and basketball. Although he lost both parents in a tragic automobile accident on Christmas Day 1961 at the young age of eighteen, he attended Georgia Tech for two years and then finished his undergraduate education at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana in 1967, receiving the outstanding senior Chemistry award at the same time. He went on to get his PhD in physical chemistry from the University of Wisconsin in Madison in 1970, where he was also awarded the University Prize Fellowship. David’s first job was at Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin. In 1983, he moved to Spartanburg where he taught physical chemistry – and also numerous January interims on such fascinating topics as Western films, digital photography, and rock ‘n’ roll music appreciation – at Wofford College until he stepped into the position of Vice President of Information Technology in 2000.
David was known for his love of the outdoors, which developed during his graduate-school years and his time at Northland College. He kayaked, canoed, hiked, and backpacked untold miles, including a portion of the famous Camino de Santiago trail in Europe.
David’s career was focused on the use of technology for educational purposes. One of the first people to own a personal computer in the small town of Ashland, Wisconsin, eventually became an innovator in developing computer applications that assisted with the teaching of chemistry. Beginning in the early 1980s he earned an award from the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), worked on projects associated with the University of Wisconsin’s Institute of Chemical Education, received seven National Science Foundation (NSF) grants, and served on numerous committee positions in the American Chemistry Society. He sat on the editorial board for the Journal for Chemical Education: Software. As Vice President of Technology of Wofford, he became a leader in bringing technology into the classroom and demonstrating how to integrate technology into teaching methods. On campus, and also around much of the Spartanburg community, he is remembered as a passionate teacher, a generous, supportive colleague, and a dedicated friend whose energy and passion for life was truly infectious.
David was also active in the Spartanburg community. He volunteered in local schools, taught basic chemistry concepts to grade school students, and judged local science fair competitions. He was the President of the Spartanburg Science Center’s Board of Directors in the late 1990s; his expertise helped get the center through some times and usher it into a new century. For his many achievements, he was inducted into his hometown high school’s Hall of Fame in 2018.
David played an active Leadership role in Boy Scouts of America for 16 years and was a faithful member of the Saint Paul United Methodist Church for almost 40 years.
David’s dedication to teaching and service was only paralleled by his devotion to his wife of 59 years, Linda Dyson Whisnant, his two sons, Clayton John Whisnant and wife, Megan DeMoss, and Aaron James Whisnant and wife, Monica Mabry Whisnant, all of Spartanburg, South Carolina; David’s beloved dog, Coco ; his grandchildren, Sophia Margaret Whisnant, David James Whisnant, Paul DeMoss Whisnant and Mazlyn Starr Whisnant; He is also survived by his brother, John Robert Whisnant, his wife, Cindy and their family of Minnetonka, Minnesota; other family members include Larry and Linda Dyson and Joyce Dyson and their families. Moreover, David had a host of close friends across the country who will miss him dearly.
A Memorial Service to Celebrate the Life of Dr. David Whisnant will be held Sunday afternoon, October 8, 2023 at 2:30 p.m. in the Leonard Auditorium at Wofford College conducted by the Reverend Dr. Ronald Robinson and the Reverend Jeremy Howell. The Eulogy will be delivered by his son, Clayton. The family will greet friends following the service at the Provost House on the Wofford Campus.
In lieu of flowers, the family respectfully requests memorial contributions be made to the Wofford College Office of Philanthropy and Engagement, 429 North Church Street, Spartanburg, South Carolina 29303; Spartanburg Regional Hospice, Post Office Box 430, Drayton, South Carolina 29333; or the Local Missions Fund of Saint Paul United Methodist Church, 1320 Fernwood-Glendale Road., Spartanburg, South Carolina 29307.