Longtime friend Benny Burlison met Whitaker in 1966.
“We have been good, good friends ever since. He was a great influence in my life. I think he had great integrity and when he was a judge, he was a fair judge. He did a good job every where he went,” Burlison said.
Burlison is the pastor of Holy Ground Worship Center in Palestine and former pastor of Trinity Church, where at one time Whitaker attended church.
“He attended my church in the past years ago and he's preached at my church now a few times,” Burlison said. “The last few years on the church's birthday, he would come and preach.”
Whitaker leaves behind his wife of 57 years, Emma Lee Whitaker; son and law partner, Stuart Whitaker of Palestine; daughter, Karen Hardwick of Garland; six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Memorial services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 5 at Evangelistic Temple under the direction of Bailey & Foster Funeral Home of Palestine.