CONNELLY SPRINGS Mr. Richard F. Whisenant, former President/CEO of Burke Mills in Valdese, died Friday, Feb. 8, 2019, following a lengthy illness. After a 43 year career at Burke Mills, "Whisenant" retired to operate a small farm in Connelly Springs, where he raised pick-your-own strawberries, vegetables, plants and goats. He is especially remembered for the delicious tomatoes he raised in the greenhouse during the winter. Believing one should "pay back" to the community where he was raised, Whisenant served on various boards and committees in Valdese and Burke Counties. Richard was a 12 veteran of the North Carolina National Guard and a member of the Waldensian Presbyterian Church. An avid Rotarian, Whisenant lived the Rotary Motto "Service Above Self". He was a four-time Paul Harris Fellow, a two-time recipient of the Rotarian of the Year award and was named a Service Above Self Award winner. Richard Whisenant was preceded in death by his parents, "Gus" and Lena Pons Whisenant; sister and brother-in-law, Alma and Granville Morrow; sister and nephew, Dolly and Michael Cloer. Surviving are his wife, Elsie of the home; sons, Richard B. Whisenant and wife, Chris, of High Point, and Robert B. Whisenant and wife, Jennifer of Hildebran; brother, Charles A. Whisenant and wife, Josephine, of Eden; grandchildren, Kara Giles and Quentin Whisenant; several nieces and nephews; and loyal helper, John Fowler. A private interment will be held in the Waldensian Presbyterian Church Cemetery. A service of remembrance will be held at 11 a.m., Monday Feb. 11, in the Waldensian Presbyterian Church with the Rev. Dr. Kevin Fredrick officiating. There will be a reception following the services for family and friends in Pioneer Hall of the Church. The family wishes to thank all the wonderful people at Burke Hospice and Palliative Care for their tender care of our Richard. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the Waldensian Presbyterian Church, 109 Main St. E, Valdese, NC 28690 designated for the Praley Street Acre of Grace. Heritage Funeral Services of Valdese are assisting the Whisenant family.