He could have been only a war hero. He could have been only a big game hunter. He could have been only a pilot. He could have been only a married father of four. But that wasn’t George P. Whittington Jr.’s style. No. George — farmer, Henderson, Ky., resident, husband to Agnes, father to Charles, Richard, Janet, and Elizabeth — never stopped trying to learn new things.
Neither did Agnes. Word has it that the young lady George met at the University of Missouri, Columbia, was studying art when she answered a knock at the door. George was there to take her roommate out on a date. “And that was it,” their daughter, Janet Whittington of Nashville, Tenn., laughs. “He never took the roommate out again.”
They married while they were in college and took a three-month honeymoon in Mexico. For 49 years, until George’s death in 1996, they traveled the world from their home base at 502 Chestnut St. in Henderson. They studied French, Spanish, Italian, and Russian. Agnes, an award-winning water colorist, was an early practitioner of yoga who founded the Henderson chapter of the National Organization for Women. She also earned a commercial pilot rating. “She used to love to practice her aerobatics in a single plane over the Ohio River,” Janet says. And George? He never talked about the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944, in Normandy, France, but his extraordinary heroism in that battle is the reason his family still has his Distinguished Service Cross.
Agnes died in 2011, and Janet lived at the home just off of Green Street from 2002 until this past June. Now, the house sits empty — but only of its longtime residents.
Left on the walls and up for an online auction planned for late September are the stuffed heads of a Cape buffalo and antelope. Throughout the rest of the house, there also are elephant footstools, Japanese armor from the Edo Period, a Samurai sword, an original 1950s Ludwig Mies van der Rohe Barcelona ottoman and bench, the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (copyright 1906), and vintage dresses. Andrew Mancabelli, the guest curator for the Louisville, Ky., Frazier History Museum’s Samurai exhibit, will clean and assemble the Samurai armor.
Then there is the house itself. Completed in 1959, this 6,400-square-foot home with a full basement has wide, long, spacious hallways and rooms and is large enough to hold everything that Wendy Miller and her team at Curran Miller Auction/Realty have worked to catalogue since May. The house will be auctioned off first on Sept. 24 at 6 p.m. The two personal property auctions will close on Sept. 25 and Sept. 26. A public open house is scheduled for Sept. 18 and Sept. 19 from 4 to 6 p.m. “It’s taken a village to put this thing together, and it’s been a truly amazing adventure,” Miller says.
For more information about the Whittington family auction, call 812-474-6100 or visit whittingtonfamilyauction.com.