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Sad news: “Gentle giant” Mike Whitney passes away after cancer battle, read tributes

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Whitney was a contributor to the Sun, Allegany County, and beyond

By Andrew Harris

I’ve never personally met Mike, but we had a connection, like most Grateful Dead fanatics, aka, “DeadHeads.” Mike defied many of the stereotypes attached to our little universe: He was a hard worker, very involved in his community, and had a dynamic set of skills that impacted many people.

You may have met him at a Farmers Market, or the “Jam at the Dam” in Galeton, or at a concert in downtown San Francisco, CA. Mike was a master tie-dye artist, a great photographer, a musician, and to many a great friend.

While wildly colorful clothing isn’t for everyone, we all have to admit it makes life more, well, colorful. Mike was a colorful character. Between his personality, his art, and his willingness to make the world a better place, this verse from the Grateful Dead song, “Terrapin Station,” underscores the impact a colorful human can have:

“Light the song with sense and color, hold away despair.”

His friends are very sad today, here are a few of the tributes from Facebook:

Whitefeather Whitefeather, “Today we lost another fam. He fought hard and he lives a long road and today it was time for rest. I feel truley blessed that I was able to share a piece of his journey. he lifted many and was a light to so many. in all his colorful ways. I’ll be your big spoon anyday brother. May you finally have rest within the arms of Abraham’s bosom. What a long strange trip it’s been brother. A long strange trip in deed.

Rip wook, I will continue to beat this drum till my hands don’t let me anymore.

Till we meet again. I love you brother. Thanks for the dove.

Victoria Ayler: RIP cousin We rarely agreed but were able to banter back and forth, keeping it civil.

Give Uncle Roy, Grandma Whitney and my mom and dad great big hugs.

Beebs La Clark: Reach out to your friends. Especially if you know they aren’t doing well. Rest easy Wookie M Leroy Whitney!!! We had some great times together and you had some wild stories. Taught me all the good stuff about Grateful Dead. Got me my first ticket to see Dead & Co. Put on my first in-home concert that is such a fond memory; you had a light show and the speakers blasting, we drank and laughed and danced. Always let me chill with you behind the sound booth at Stoneclad shows. But most importantly, you encouraged me to dance, let loose, and listen to the music. NFA 🌟

“A box of rain will ease the pain, And love will see you through”

Andrew Dotzel: This 1 stings, alot..

This guy… M Leroy Whitney or Wook as most of us knew him… He came into our lives at our 1st Dam show. He had some questions about our PA, he was the sound guy for Stoneclad at the time and I’ll admit at first I blew him off just rambling off the brands and general info about our stuff. That wasn’t good enough for Wook. He jumped in and starting helping out (despite me telling him not to touch anything πŸ˜‚).. He invited us over to their camp by the creek for a night cap where he was adamant about knowing what speakers I had in my sub cabinets.. That was how our story with Wook started. over the next few months we talked back and forth about a set of subs he was trying to put together. We became friends, he was an ear for our kids whenever they needed it. He became our tye dye guy, our photographer and our social media guy.

Although we live miles and miles apart He was a true friend, always honest whether it was what you wanted to hear or not. He had a voice that when he raised it you payed attention, yet when soft it was a comfort. He had a good heart and a caring soul. Always had my back, always…

He had a huge place in many people’s lives.

He will be missed dearly.. I know he’ll be there watching over, but it won’t be the same without him..

Although we know he is in a better place and no longer suffering it is still very heart breaking for me that he is gone… I will honor him in a few ways. I will be making his urn, and I will be running his PA at a memorial show in July.

Until we meet again Fly High my brother. ❀️✌️

Mary Gardner-Ruch

I have known Mike for many years. He was an awesome drummer, a cook, and a businessman. Most of all, he was a friend. He always was supportive of the Alfred Market. He will be missed.

Read Mike’s contribution to this site about a year ago when Belmont was hit with flood waters.

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