American Veteran 01

Gail "Buddy" Whitley

March 19, 1935 ~ March 15, 2022 (age 86)

Obituary Image

Obituary

Brother Gail Herbert Whitley, affectionately called “Buddy” by the many who loved him, peacefully passed away on March 15, 2022, while with family. Buddy was born on March 19, 1935, in San Francisco, California.  He was the son of William Leon Whitley, Jr. and Nanearl Eleanor Fleming Whitley, and the brother to Coralee Whitley Callins Shelton and the late Leona Edna May Whitley Williams. 

Buddy attended schools in the Berkeley Unified School District, graduating from Berkeley High School in 1953. He joined the United States Army on December 10, 1954, where he was awarded a Good Conduct Medal.  He received an honorable discharge as a Private Second Class after serving as a Medical Corpsman. 

Buddy was an impeccable and talented sportsman and mentor.  As a skilled multisport athlete, Buddy excelled as a high jumper, pole vaulter, long-distance runner, and many say, "the finest basketball player ever".  For decades, you could find Buddy "Jammin’ on the courts" around the Greater East Bay Area.  Buddy was a gracious mentor to many athletes.  He often shared his athletic skills with all, serving as a player and coach for the YMCA, McGee Avenue Baptist Church, and other basketball teams around the Bay Area.  When Mr. McFadden formed the McGee church basketball team, Buddy was selected as one of the trophy-winning players due to his skill and ever-sportsmanlike conduct.  Buddy later donated most of the trophies that he won to McGee Avenue Baptist Church.

Buddy had a passion for knowledge and Theology.  He earned an Associate of Arts degree in Psychology from Merritt College.  He also attended California State University, East Bay, and the Berkeley School of Religion.  It was at the Berkeley School of Religion where his calling to serve God was cemented.  His sincere desire to do God's work led Buddy to serve as Chaplain for the American Legion Post 695 in Emeryville, CA. 

He accepted Christ at the age of fifteen at McGee Avenue Baptist Church, Berkeley, under the leadership of Reverend Syphers.  Buddy was a devout servant of God and an active member of McGee Church for more than seventy years.  As a disciple of Christ, Buddy was a strong believer and shared the messages of God’s word. His benevolent spirit allowed him to be able to communicate with all people. He served God in many capacities, such as a “Shepherd” for his church.  It is said that Buddy held the record for bringing more people into the McGee “flock” than any other member.  He was loyal to McGee and never did he stray away.  For several years, Buddy annually bestowed a generous scholarship to youth members at McGee, in support of their pursuit for higher education.

The dictionary defines the word "buddy" as a companion, partner, and fellow.  Buddy was not only the epitome of his name as defined, but more.  Besides being a companion, partner, and fellow, Buddy was a family man; a brother, cousin, uncle, and father figure to all his nieces and nephews. He was first and foremost a kindhearted, munificent, God-loving, ever-practicing Christian who gave his life to God and his fellow man.  Everyone loved and respected Buddy, who practiced and encouraged peace, joy and love, faith in God, respect, and truth.  We thank God that he gave us Buddy, our partner, companion, fellow, family man, sportsman, seeker of knowledge, Chaplain, and Shepherd.

Buddy was preceded in death by his parents, sister Leona, and niece Coralee Willis Malone.  He is survived in loving memory by his devoted sister Coralee, nieces, and nephews Nanearl Toussaint-Touson (Jessea), Melvia Nancy Gray-Smith, Milton Leon Williams, Jeffrey A. Gray (Patricia), Michele Gray-Samuel, Michael A. Willis (Nakisha), Philip Whitley Toussaint-Touson (Kristima), Stacey Toussaint-Touson, Robert Boyd, William and Jonathan Gray, Alexander and Brianna Samuel, Xavier and Aliyah Willis, Cynthia, Cecilei, Ayinda, Leon Kelley, Nanearl, Jessea, and Mario Toussaint-Touson, and a host of other loving relatives and friends.

Floral arrangements may be sent to the Church via El Cerrito Florists, 11201 San Pablo Ave, El Cerrito, CA 94530

 

 

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Gail "Buddy" Whitley, please visit our floral store.

 Service Program


Services

Visitation
Saturday
March 26, 2022

10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
McGee Avenue Baptist Church
1640 Stuart St.
Berkeley, CA 94703

Please note

Family and friends are invited to RSVP to this service.


Funeral Service
Saturday
March 26, 2022

11:00 AM
McGee Avenue Baptist Church
1640 Stuart St.
Berkeley, CA 94703

Please note

Family and friends are invited to RSVP to this service.

Video is available for this event


Military Honors
Saturday
March 26, 2022

12:30 PM
McGee Avenue Baptist Church
1640 Stuart St.
Berkeley, CA 94703

Video is available for this event


Interment
Monday
March 28, 2022

10:30 AM
Sacramento Valley National Cemetery
5810 Midway Rd
Dixon, CA 95620

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