Flowerree Patten Whitaker Oakes passed away peacefully on February 20, at age 94.
She was preceded in death by her loving husbands, Herbert L. Oakes, Sr., and L. Spires Whitaker, MD; her parents, Norma (Bunnie) Flowerree and David Manker Patten; and her grandparents, Norma Kenna and William Kemp Flowerree, and Edith Manker and John A. Patten.
She is survived by her adoring sister, Janet Mills Moon (Deaderick), of Chattanooga, and her children, Flowerree Whitaker McDonough (Steve) and Lawson Spires Whitaker III, of Chattanooga, and John Thompson Whitaker II (Anne), of Nashville. She is lovingly remembered by her grandchildren, Manker Galetovic, Thompson Galetovic, Grace Whitaker, Kathleen Osteen (Hugh), Litton Whitaker, and John Whitaker III, as well as nieces and nephews, many Patten cousins, and Lynn Oakes Miller and Herbert L. Oakes, Jr.
A native of Chattanooga, Flowerree was born on July 20, 1923, and spent her childhood on Minnekahda Hill, where she and her sister Janet and their 13 first cousins grew up together and on the first Sunday of the month shared lunch, followed by baseball games on the lawn at her grandmother Patten's home. As the family book, The Patten Chronicle, says, they "loved to roam - alone or with cousins - through the woods, along the river bank or over the farm fields at the Minnekahda estate." Flowerree's closely knit family childhood led to her lifelong love of family gatherings and meals together.
She attended Girls Preparatory School in Chattanooga, and was graduated from St. Anne's School in Charlottesville, VA. She attended Stephens College in Columbia, MO. One of Flowerree's favorite stories to share with grandchildren was that her parents were looking to shield her from World War II and searched for a college that was, as she said, "in the middle of nowhere." Flowerree was loved for her dry wit, adventurous spirit, and planning special times for her family. Each holiday held something special - the ice cream mold in the shape of a baby lamb on Easter, fireworks on the Fourth of July, her witch attire on Halloween, and everyone home for Christmas.
Flowerree was deeply rooted in Chattanooga. She was Cotton Ball queen in 1946. With her first husband Spires Whitaker, she raised three children and was active in the Junior League of Chattanooga, board president of the Little Miss Mag Early Learning Center, and active in the Colonial Dames of America, and the Daughters of the American Revolution, where she was a Chickamauga Chapter Regent and recently commended for her 40-plus years of volunteer service.
She attended First Presbyterian Church and was active in Ben Hayden's Changed Lives Ministry. With her second husband Herbie Oakes, she enjoyed spending time in Naples, FL, and meeting new friends from other parts of the country.
Flowerree loved to play bridge and tennis, and at both she played to gracefully win. As she aged, she relished visits and phone calls from grandchildren, friends, and distant cousins as far away as Montana. She answered with her friendly, "Hi, doll," an expression of a young heart from someone who loved life so much.
Flowerree will forever be remembered by her family, friends, and caregivers for her loving devotion. Fourth of July just won't seem the same without her.
A memorial service celebrating Flowerree’s life will be held on Friday, Feb. 23, at 11:30 a.m. at First Presbyterian Church. The family will receive friends and guests afterwards at 12 p.m. The family only graveside service will be at Forest Hill Cemetery at 10 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Little Miss Mag and Changed Lives.