During his distinguished career as the judge of probate for Oxford County, he presided over hundreds of cases involving the settlement of estates, trusts, adoptions, name changes, guardianship and conservatorship proceedings.

In 2009, on his 50th anniversary of being a member of the Maine Bar, he was recognized by his peers for his long and devoted record of public service, receiving the honor of Life Member from the Maine State Bar Association.

Richard E. “Dick” Whiting, a longtime resident of St. George, died Friday in Rockport, surrounded by his family. He was 79.

“He was a loving father, who took his work very seriously,” said one of his four sons, Lee Whiting of Park City, Utah.

Mr. Whiting was born in Lewiston in 1931 and was raised in the Auburn area, graduating from Edward Little High School in 1949.

His father, Arthur Edward Whiting, operated Whiting’s Esso on Centre Street in Auburn. “It was a community fixture,” his son said.

While working there as a teenager, Mr. Whiting met a customer who was impressed with his work ethic and arranged for him to attend Cushing Academy, a Massachusetts prep school, on a scholarship.

At the time he was not sure he wanted to go to college, but the year he spent at Cushing Academy changed his mind.

Mr. Whiting met his future wife, Elaine Barbara “Lanny” Bland, at the school, and he was accepted into Colby College in Waterville, where he majored in history.

“My father had a fascination with all things historical,” his son said. “That never left him.”

After graduating from Colby in 1954, he attended Boston University Law School. In 1958, he was offered a job with a law firm in Rumford whose sole practitioner, Theodore Gonya, died about a year after Mr. Whiting joined the firm.

“My father inherited the practice and I think he held his own,” his son said.

He took on a partner, Jim Kendall. The firm of Whiting and Kendall flourished as they served as counsel and lobbyist for Rumford’s former Boise Cascade paper mill.

In 1973, Mr. Whiting was elected Oxford County judge of probate. He held the part-time post, which is based in the county seat of South Paris, for nearly 24 years, getting elected to six consecutive terms.

During his tenure as probate judge, Mr. Whiting continued to operate his law practice in Rumford.

He remained politically active, serving as president of the Maine Probate Judges Assembly as well as heading up a revision commission, whose reform recommendations were adopted by the Maine Legislature.

“His commission revised the probate code to make it simpler to understand, faster, and less expensive,” his son said.

He retired from the court in 1997.

Mr. Whiting lived for many years in St. George in a home overlooking Penobscot Bay that he and his sons built.

“It was built as a camp, but it eventually became his home,” his son said.

Mr. Whiting pursued a number of hobbies connected to the outdoors. He loved to fly fish, hunt for wild duck, and he enjoyed hiking, especially in the hills and mountains of western Maine where he grew up.

In 1978, on his 25th wedding anniversary, Mr. Whiting, his wife, and their five children climbed Baldpate Mountain in Grafton Notch State Park.

It was a rugged 2,900-foot climb past swimming holes, rock slabs and up ladders, but a memorable family experience.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

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