Brother Joseph Whittaker was born in Biloxi, Mississippi on June 24, 1949. He entered Omega Chapter on December 21, 2014.
Brother Whittaker attended Talladega College where he was initiated into Omega Psi Phi Fraternity on October 16, 1968 through the Gamma Psi Chapter. Knowing that Omega demands much from its members, Brother Whittaker not only served as Basileus of Gamma Psi, he also ran and was elected Student Body President. In 1971 he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Talladega. He continued his education at Meharry Medical College, where he received his Ph.D. in Microbiology. After graduation he taught at both Purdue University and Meharry Medical College. While at Meharry he was active in the Delta Chapter. He later transferred his membership to Gamma Phi Chapter, the graduate chapter in Nashville.
In 1989 Brother Whittaker moved to Greensboro, North Carolina to become Chairman of the Biology Department at North Carolina A&T State University. Shortly after moving to Greensboro he became an active member of Tau Omega Chapter, where he held many leadership roles. He was the advisor to Mu Psi Chapter at A&T. While under Brother Whittaker’s advisement The Mu Psi chapter won the 6th District’s undergraduate Chapter of the year and on the campus they won Greek Organization of the year and Top Fraternity of the Year. Brother Whittaker was also awarded the Advisor of the Year. At Tau Omega he served as Keeper of Records and Seal, Vice Basileus and Basileus of the Chapter. He also held leadership roles on the district level. In 1997 he served as the District Marshall for the Annual Sixth District Meeting in Greensboro, chaired the Sixth District Achievement Week Committee and served as the Assistant Regional Membership Selection Process Chairman for ten years. Brother Whittaker received numerous awards throughout his membership in Omega. He was Tau Omega’s Man of the Year in 1997. In 2008 the fraternity recognized him for 40 years of membership and service. In 2011 he received the Founders Award.
Many brothers standing here today entered Omega Psi Phi under the guidance of Brother Whittaker. Minutes…not hours, not days, after becoming members of this great fraternity, Brother Whittaker, in his God given way, gave clear guidance to his new brothers on how to conduct themselves as Omega men.
Brother Whittaker was the E. F. Hutton of Tau Omega Chapter. When he spoke everyone listened. No matter what the issue, he knew who did it…why it was done…when it was done…how it was done…and what was going to happen after it was done. Whenever an argument began in the chapter, he would listen intensely. At some point he would stand and say “Brothers”, in an authoritative way. The room became silent and he would voice his opinion, which quickly became the opinion of everyone in the room. To be honest, whether he was right or wrong, he always articulated his point so well; no one would argue or disagree with him. He also served as an unofficial advisor to many Basilei that came after him. While I was preparing for today, a young past Basileus told me a story of one of his counseling sessions he had with brother Whittaker, where he would listen to him cuss and fuss in his office for hours about the state of Tau Omega, the lack of participation, the ‘great divide’ between young and old, the prevalent self-conceit, and threatening to leave it all behind only to have brother Whittaker smirk and say, “You done? Did you get it all out?” “We are Omega Men… we work. It’s what we do. So get it all out and I’ll see you in the morning.” Then through the frustration, the young past Basileus would get up and feed the homeless or whatever event we were hosting. Brother Whittaker’s wise counsel has kept Tau Omega on track and moving forward.
A God fearing man, Brother Whittaker was a faithful member of St. Matthews United Methodist Church, where he taught the adult Sunday school class for more than fifteen years and sang eloquently in the male chorus.
To say Joe will be missed is a tremendous understatement. He was a MIGHTY tree of Tau Omega Chapter for almost 25 years and served Omega Psi Phi for over 46 years. Although his voice has been stilled, his counsel, his wisdom and yes…his Whittaker…isms will continue to impact our chapter in a positive way for many years to come