Whiteman, Bart

Educator, Writer, Theater Founder, Director, Producer, Financier

Thursday, March 16, 2006
Bart Whiteman
Bart Whiteman

Bart Whiteman, educator, writer, theater founder, director, producer, financier and beloved father and husband, passed on the evening of March 14, 2006 from heart failure.

Bart was born in July 1947 in Nashville, Tn., to Harold Bartlett Whiteman Jr. and Edith Davis Whiteman both of Nashville. Shortly thereafter, they moved to New Haven, Ct., where he grew up involved in the sports world he loved and excelled in. Following the family footsteps, he attended The Taft School and Yale University. He continued to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, England, and at the Circle in the Square in Manhattan. He obtained his master's degree in Education at the American University in Washington, D.C., and founded The Source Theatre, Washington’s first non-equity theatre which became the beginning of a 20-year involvement there garnishing him the reputation of “maverick and extraordinary talent with unmatched integrity and tremendous intelligence.” He was a great and passionate teacher and superlative director. One of his greatest achievements was taking his production of Tennessee Williams' “Glass Menagerie” on a six-month, 250-show tour to London and to 14 cities in then Yugoslavia. His diplomacy overseas as a representative of America and of American theatre was admired in every venue.

As an actor, Bart performed at the Arena Stage, The Shakespere Theatre at the Folger, the Kennedy Center, Wolf Trap Center for the Performing Arts, and with just about every theatre company in the city. He was cast in numerous films but had two favorites: his role as Dutch in The Firm and as Dysart in Equus. He was an active member of the Stage and Screen Actors Guild. He taught English and the Humanities at the St. Peter’s School in Washington, D.C., and was asked by a man he highly respected, Dr. Douglas Paschall, headmaster of Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville, to head the Drama and Speech Department where he spearheaded a student movement into the theatre arts that continues today. He was invited to head that same department at the Girls' Preparatory School in Chattanooga five years later, where he remained a strong voice for the arts in numerous articles and reviews.

Later, he joined another team but this time in the world of mortgage finance with the highly respected firm, Mortgage South in Chattanooga. It was here that he took great pride in using his creative skills like a Houdini in closing mortgages for many people who would otherwise not have had the possibility of home ownership. This gave Bart a great sense of accomplishment - that a family could have their own home - surely because he had such great pride and love for his own.

Bart was an extraordinary man who always achieved extraordinary results. He remained an active member of the Chamber of Commerce and was privileged to join the 2004 Leadership Chattanooga Team. He was a helper, counselor, and friend extraordinaire. He taught through example and he told great stories.

He is survived by his wife, Melinda Whiteman, and his two daughters, Elisabeth Monclin and Mary Bartlett Whiteman, and by his sister, Pricilla Kellert of New Haven, CT., and brother, Mac Whiteman of Nashville.

There will be a memorial service held for Bart at Our Lady of the Mount Church, 1227 Scenic Highway, Lookout Mountain, Ga., on Wednesday, March 22, at 1 p.m. followed by a reception, general public invited. If you can’t make it, just take a trip to your favorite theatre and see a play - you’ll find him there.

(This obituary was written with love and pride by Melinda Whiteman, freelance journalist.)

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