Max Dale Whitlock, 89, of Mt. Vernon, IL, passed away Thursday, November 8, 2018, at Crossroads Community Hospital in Mt. Vernon. Born May 29, 1929, near Carrier Mills, IL, Max was the only child of the Rev. John Leonard Whitlock and Dalia Murphy Whitlock. While his father was in the seminary in Texas, Max graduated from High School, in Aubrey, TX, in 1947. At the age of 21, Max was called into active duty in the U.S. Army and after completing basic training and before being shipped overseas, he visited his parents in Mt.Vernon. While home that week, Max met Marion at the church where his father was serving as pastor. He then served two years in Japan courting his girlfriend through daily correspondence. While overseas, Max proposed, via U.S mail, to the love of his life, Marion Carole Greer of Mt. Vernon. On August 25, 1953 the couple was married at Park Ave. Baptist Church.
He and Marion then moved to Carbondale, where they briefly attended SIU. While in school Max started a dry cleaning route in nearby small towns. Within a few months, spurred by his inability to find a good quality slingshot for his young brother-in-law, Max decided he and Marion would manufacture slingshots. They found a house in Valier with a two car garage, which became their factory. Soon they were shipping wooden slingshots to sporting goods stores in 27 states. Early business ventures included manufacturing jon boats, running a trade stamp route, selling taffy apples to most of the small groceries in southern Illinois, and publishing a monthly advertising paper aimed at body shops, salvage yards, etc.
After their early successes, Max and Marion moved to St. Louis, with Marion supporting the family working as an executive secretary in a large firm, and Max caring for their first child. Wanting to return to Mt. Vernon, Max persuaded Marion to give up her job, which she did, with the condition that they have another child. After about a year and a half back in Mt. Vernon, an unlikely business venture was born. Through one of his jobs servicing Kroger stores with housewares, Max stocked 2 x 6 runner rugs for a special promotion. They sold like hotcakes. He found the TN mill that made the rugs, drove all night, and picked up a load. He sold them in a rented grocery store. This birthed a very successful business endeavor, Karpet Korner. In addition to the Mt. Vernon Karpet Korner, Max and Marion owned and operated flooring stores in multiple locations throughout Illinois. After selling this business they opened an office supply and furniture business, Office Furniture Warehouse, eventually opening similar stores in Mattoon and Litchfield. Max shipped furniture all over the country. Businesses also included real estate/property development including conversion of an old school building near Benton into an apartment building and handball court. Successive and simultaneous businesses included The Paneling Center, Baron Wood Burning Stove Manufacturing, Hardwoods of Illinois and M & M Forklifts which he was still operating into his eighties.
Max loved fiercely, lived joyfully, generously, and compassionately while finding the good in everyone he encountered. He worked and played hard and never sweat the small stuff. He was a voracious reader, skilled woodworker and jogged two miles every other day for 40 years. Max was a longtime member of Park Avenue Baptist Church, which was often the recipient of his benevolence.
He is survived by his oldest daughter Rebecca Ritter and husband Kevin and their children Liz Ritter, Ben Ritter and wife Stephanie, and Sarah Audi and husband Kyle. Also surviving is his middle daughter Laura Seidel and husband Jerry, and their children Corey Seidel and wife Lauren, Luke Seidel, and Greg Seidel. Corey and Lauren provided Max with two great-grandsons, Dawson Seidel and Carter Seidel. Max’s third surviving child is Gina Fletcher and husband Scott, and their son Reece Brand Fletcher. Max is also survived by brother-in-law Jim Greer, nephew Frank “Tug” Greer and wife Billie, and several cousins, who were like siblings to him.
He was preceded in death by his wife Marion, son Max Brand Whitlock, and nephew Mark Greer.
Max was lovingly assisted in his last years by caregivers Abe Bartolomucci, Tammy Foster, and Carol Toland.
A greeting of family and friends will take place from 12 to 2pm Wednesday, Nov. 14th at Park Avenue Church. A celebration of life service will begin at 2 p.m. If desired, memorials may be made to Park Avenue Baptist Church or to the Alzheimer’s Association.