Charlie and Lillie Mae Whitaker, March 2013 – photo © Bill Warren
Charlie Whitaker, who performed for years with his wife as Lillie Mae & The Dixie Gospelaires, died on November 30. He was 86 years of age.
Lillie Mae and Charlie were married for 59 years, 54 of them spent performing together with Charlie on mandolin and Lillie Mae on guitar. After the band stopped touring, they often appeared and sang with their sons, who played as The Whittaker Brothers.
Outside of music, Charlie ran Whitaker & Sons Auto Wrecking in Kenton, OH, a company he founded and managed with his father. He retired in 1997 and spent his time assisting Lillie Mae with the many rental properties she had acquired over her long career as a real estate agent. By both of them being self-employed, the Whittakers had the freedom to tour the country with their bluegrass Gospel band.
Charlie and Lillie Mae appeared several times on the Grand Ole Opry and recorded 12 albums over the course of their career.
Lillie Mae preceded her husband in death in 2014.
Friends and family remember Charlie for both his friendly face and smiling welcome to one and all, and for being one of the best auto mechanics in central Ohio. The bluegrass community mourns his passing for the music he made.
A private ceremony was held, with interment at the Preston Cemetery in Alger, OH.
R.I.P., Charlie Whitaker.