Lifelong Grays Harbor businessman Bud Whiteside died Thursday morning in his sleep at home in Tumwater. He was 80 years old. His family has owned and operated Whiteside Family Mortuaries in the region since 1910.
“It was such a shock, so sudden, we didn’t have time,” said his daughter, Jenny, Friday afternoon. “We should have been more prepared, especially being in the business.”
Living with severe diabetes, Whiteside had been losing weight and did not feel well, though “he never wanted to be a burden, he didn’t want me to know how sick he was,” she said. He finally agreed to get help, so she called medics from Capital Medical Center in Olympia Monday night.
Her father was diagnosed with lung cancer. “They didn’t know how long he had, a few weeks, a few months.” It turned out to be a “couple of days,” she said.
Asked what she learned from her father, Whiteside responded: “Compassion for others, (that is what) our father taught us.”
It was difficult as children because he was away a lot since the business required that he be available 24 hours a day. When they were kids their father “would tell us other people needed him as well. He’d make time with us when he could.”
Now that she is in charge, “I understood well why he spent the time that he did.”
Her father “did not think he would be remembered” so he did not want a service, she said. Though his death was sudden, “I am happy for him. I did not want to watch him suffer.”
Whiteside, whose full name was Eugene Houston “Bud” Whiteside Jr., studied mortuary science in New York and served his apprenticeship in Edmonds in 1960. He and his wife Gayle moved to Aberdeen and took over the management of the funeral homes. They had two children, Jeff and Jenny. The Whitesides turned over the business to their son so they could have time to travel and more freedom, the company’s website says. When Jeff left the area, daily operations were handed over to daughter Jenny, who has been working for the business since 1984.
The mortuaries now have three branches — Aberdeen, Montesano and Elma. There is a crematory in Aberdeen.
A public viewing and time to pay respects will be held at the Aberdeen branch of Whiteside Family Mortuaries at 109 E. Second, from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Tuesday. “That was his (branch),” his daughter said.
A private service will be held for the family and Whiteside Jr. will be buried in Tumwater at the Masonic Cemetery, next to his mother, Ruth, per his wishes.
Further arrangements will be released soon. Remembrances for the family can be sent to Bud@whitesidefamilymortuaries.com.