William Church Whitner III had a master plan to develop Seabrook Island while still preserving its beaches, forests and marshlands.
He pulled it off and went on to a successful career in real estate development, including Bohicket Marina.
Whitner died Sunday in Baltimore at age 84.
Born Sept. 8, 1928, in Rock Hill, he was the son of Lyle Roddey Whitner and Emma Hope Whitner. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1951, served as an aviator assigned to the aircraft carriers Yorktown and Hornet, and also was a jet test pilot.
He entered the Navy Reserve in 1960 and retired as a lieutenant commander.
In 1970 Whitner purchased Seabrook Island from the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. The land primarily had been a haven for recreational hunters and fishermen.
“Dad was a dreamer,” said his daughter, Elizabeth Whitner. “He loved nature and beauty. I think he loved the dream of creating a beautiful place for people to live.”
Whitner was one of the first to establish a residence on the barrier island. Despite selling his interest in 1973, he remained as the operating head of community development.
In the late 1970s Whitner began plans to develop Bohicket Marina, nestled in Bohicket Creek, the deepwater estuary between Kiawah and Seabrook islands.
During the several years in which he waited for permit approval, he spent time studying the strong and weak points of other marinas. He felt Bohicket was an ideal location, since extensive dredging would not be required.
The marina opened in 1982, and after Whitner sold his interest in 1986 he became a consultant for similar projects.
His other developments included projects in Virginia and a casino hotel on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City, N.J.
In addition to his daughter, he is survived by his wife, Dorothy Whitner, brother Richard Whitner, sister Sally McCartha, sons William Whitner and Thomas Whitner and six grandchildren.
Memorials may be made to the South Carolina chapter of The Nature Conservancy, P.O. Box 5475, Columbia, S.C. 29250.
Arrangements are being handled by Ruck Funeral Home’s Towson Chapel of Towson, Md.
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