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Louis was born on March 23, 1937, to Louis A. and Margaret (Miller) Whitehair at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri.
Louis moved to Bartlesville, Oklahoma with his parents when he was a toddler. His father was transferred by Phillips 66 to their home office in Bartlesville.
They lived in a small house at 735 Cherokee street. Their next-door neighbors had purchased their house on December 7, 1941—Pearl Harbor Day. Recently, in 2021, Lou talked with the woman who was their neighbor, and now 98, she recalls Lou playing in the yard as a 5-year-old boy.
Lou went to kindergarten and early grade school at Garfield Elementary where J. Paul Getty went to school.
Bartlesville was the site of the first U. S. oil discovery west of the Mississippi River. Today the population of Bartlesville is 36,000. When Lou was a child, the population was under 20,000. It was the home headquarters of Phillips 66 and Cities Service oil companies. Lou’s father was an executive in Phillips company and worked in labor relations.
As Lou grew older, his family moved to a larger home at the corner of Delaware and 12th Street. He then attended Central High school before finishing high school at College High.
In 1953/1954, the Whitehairs purchased a 160-acre ranch west of Bartlesville near the town of Okesa in Osage County, Oklahoma. This sprawling property included a small lake and their house sat on a hill overlooking the lake and they named the property Lake Cliff.
Lou spent the last two years of high school daily commuting the ten-mile journey into Bartlesville from Lake Cliff. Lou was a fast runner and played end on the Bartlesville High School football team. Their senior year, their team was 10-2 and Lou played on a team that included two future NFL pro football players; David Baker, a defensive back for the San Francisco 49ers and Bobby Joe Green, a punter for many years with the Chicago Bears. Lou graduated from high school in 1955 and was the valedictorian of his class. Many people thought he was one of the smartest people they ever met. He was smart enough to win the Bartlesville Soap Box Derby using ball-bearing wheels.
Lou was a very intelligent person and a hard-working athlete. When it came time to decide his choice of a college, the academic focus won out and he entered Rice University in Houston, enrolling in the Department of Engineering. Rice was a large school and the chance of further athletic competition was limited. He transferred to Rolla School of Mines in Missouri after his sophomore year hoping to return to playing football and continuing with an engineering degree down the road. Lou roomed with a group of athletes and played football at Rolla starting at the end position and had one touchdown to his credit at Rolla.
Athletically, one of the few mistakes he ever made was to box in college. He always remembers the one time he truly saw stars as he was almost knocked out.
Lou graduated from Rolla in 1959 with an engineering degree and then decided to pursue a master’s degree in Mathematics at the University of Kansas. At the time of his graduation, the space program, started by President Kennedy, was just beginning and smart young people with degrees in mathematics were in high demand. Lou was hired by General Electric and worked on the early development of the space module in Lynn, Massachusetts and then Philadelphia.
He then was hired by McDonald-Douglas Aircraft Company and moved to their facility in St. Louis, Missouri. He worked for this company most of his adult life, retiring at age 55. He was involved in many projects including the development of the Patriot Missile.
After his retirement, he continued to be physically active and ran sprints in the Senior Olympics. Shockingly, at age 60, he ran the 100-meter dash in 12.8 seconds, despite carrying a body weight of 220 pounds. Lou was one of the few people who could run the 100-meter dash in 12 seconds, high-jump 5 feet 5 inches, and could bench press 225 pounds.
After retirement from the aerospace industry, Louis lived for many years in St. Ann, Missouri. His lifelong curiosity led him into medical research. He became interested in Multiple Sclerosis and then in the field of immunizations. Along with his cousin, he published an article in the medical journal “Auto Immunity” in 2005.
His interest in sports continued until the end. He was a St. Louis Cardinals fan for his whole life, and he participated in Senior Olympics Track and Field in multiple events into his seventies.
In 2015, after developing Parkinson’s Disease, Louis moved back to Bartlesville, Oklahoma where he spent eight good years at Green Country Village and his final days at Medicalodge in Dewey. His family is very appreciative of the excellent care he received at both facilities. In his final year of life, Louis received around-the-clock care and comforting from Visiting Angels of Bartlesville. In his final days Louis received comfort and care from Comforting Hands Hospice.
He died January 25, 2023, at Medicalodge in Dewey, Oklahoma.
Louis is predeceased by his parents in 1991. He is survived by four cousins and their families.
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