Justice Henry Hudson Whiting '41 | Handley 100th Notable
Justice Henry Hudson Whiting ’41

Henry Whiting’s father was a career Army officer who, shortly after Henry’s birth, was assigned to the Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth.

At Fort Leavenworth, Major Edgar Whiting’s family shared a duplex housing unit with the family of Major George S. Patton, Jr. The future Lt. General Patton became Henry’s godfather.

Henry was 11 years old when Lt. Colonel Whiting retired and moved his family to Winchester in 1934. Helen Hudson Whiting was widowed in 1938. She raised her 7 sons and 1 daughter with what she described as “wholesome neglect”, keeping them safe but allowing them to learn from their mistakes.

Henry entered the Virginia Polytechnic Institute in 1941. He left college after a year and enlisted in the U.S. Army. He deployed to Europe in late 1944 as a First Lieutenant in charge of a reconnaissance platoon and briefly served as an observer on the staff of General Patton. He served with the Army of Occupation in Europe until May 1946 and was discharged with the rank of Captain.

Upon leaving the Army, he entered the University of Virginia and graduated with distinction from the law school in 1949. He returned to Winchester and entered into the practice of law with J. Sloan Kuykendall. When Lewis Costello joined them, Kuykendall, Whiting and Costello became the largest law firm in Winchester.

Henry was a founding member of Concern Hotline in 1970. He was active in the organization until he was appointed to the circuit court in 1980.

After 31 years in private practice, Henry Whiting was appointed to the 26th Judicial Circuit of Virginia. In April 1987, he was elected by the Virginia Legislature to serve on the Supreme Court of Virginia. He was the first member of the Court from the Winchester-Frederick County area in over 100 years.

Justice Whiting was known for his optimism and his strong religious views. In a 1997 interview published in the Winchester Star he stated, “I see all of us as creatures of God. All criminals are just as dear to God as I am or as anybody is. Maybe God is disappointed in him, but he is still a child of God. The problem is judges still have to do something with this child in the imperfect world in which we live.”

“I see each defendant as a human being entitled to be treated as one, with respect, but with the requirement that he be held responsible for his or her actions.” 

Justice Whiting served on the Supreme Court until he stepped down to semi-retired status in 1995. He continued to serve the Court actively in his Senior Justice capacity until he retired in 2002. To honor his service, the Supreme Court of Virginia convened a special session in Winchester, its first ever there, on July 17, 2002.

Following the special session, Judge John E. Wetsel, Jr. stated, “Before he became a judge, Henry was widely known and highly respected as a lawyer because of his high intelligence, integrity, professional acumen, intellectual curiosity, boundless energy and unsurpassed diligence.”

“All head and no heart make for a bad judge, and Henry is blessed with a with a pleasant personality and personal sense of compassion which made him a caring and insightful jurist.”

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