OLYMPIA — Washington State Highway Patrolman Wesley Harvey Whittenberg, husband and father to five little girls, was tragically killed while investigating a collision at Stillaguamish Bridge, 16 miles north of Marysville on Highway 99 in 1960.
He, along with patrolman, D.M. Wolstegel, were struck by an inattentive driver during heavy fog and icy road conditions. Wolstegel was seriously injured but survived.
Patrolman Whittenberg was 37-years old and the 16th of the 30 members of the Washington State Patrol to give his life in the line of duty within the agency’s 100 years of service.
Wesley H. Whittenberg was born on Dec. 28, 1923, to Lester William Whittenberg and Essie A. Freels in Elk City, Oklahoma. The family moved to Washington State where his father worked on a farm. He attended schools in Yakima, along with his four siblings.
As a junior in high school, Whittenberg left to join the United States Navy serving in WWII from December 1943 to May 1946 aboard naval ships as a radio operator. The Wiley City resident successfully received his high school General Equivalency Degree at the end of his military service.
He began his career with the Washington State Patrol in 1948 as a vehicle inspector in Yakima. The following year, he became a radio operator. That same year, he married Ina Rose Martin, on Sept. 30, 1949.
Their family grew to include five daughters. The youngest was born after his loss, never to know her father’s embrace.
Whittenberg became a member of the 15th Trooper Cadet Class and was commissioned Nov. 1, 1950 and assigned to Pasco. He transferred to Everett the following month.
Some six decades since his death, the father, husband, son, brother, veteran, and friend was remembered Tuesday, Dec. 29 for his commitment to duty, family, country, public service and personal sacrifice.
Whittenberg was posthumously awarded the National Police Officers Association of America Medal of Merit in 1962. He received the Washington Law Enforcement Medal of Honor on May 11, 1988.