Al Whitson, chairman of Whitson Lumber Co. in Nashville, passed away yesterday at the age of 79.
Whitson was a star football player in the 1940s for Montgomery Bell Academy, where he played in the backfield with other notable Nashvillians Nelson C. Andrews and Bobby Mathews. During his career he was named to the All-City, All-State and All-Southern teams. After high school, he received a football scholarship to Vanderbilt, where he played under legendary coach Paul "Bear" Bryant. He graduated from Vanderbilt in 1950.
After serving in the Naval and Air Force Reserves, he was honorably discharged in 1956.
He then went to work for his family business at the Whitson Lumber Company, which had been founded in 1913. He remained as the company's active chairman until his death.
In addition, he also served as a life trustee of Montgomery Bell Academy. "Al was a valued board member at MBA for many years," said MBA Headmaster Bradford Gioia. "Always engaged at every level of MBA, Al Whitson made a difference in our school. He was a legendary athlete at MBA, but he was also an amazing friend, person and alumnus."
He is survived by his wife Paula and their five children: Paula Reed of Nashville; Al Whitson Jr., who currently works with Whitson Lumber; Laura Hardin of Huntsville, Ala.; Nashville attorney and former Councilman at-Large Chris Whitson; and Clay Whitson, who currently serves as chief financial officer of iPayment Inc. Thirteen grandchildren also survive him.
Visitation will be today from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. in Reed Hall at West End United Methodist Church. Services will be held at the church at 11:00 a.m. tomorrow, followed by a private family burial at Mount Olivet Cemetery.
Memorial donations may be made to Montgomery Bell Academy, West End United Methodist Church, Alive Hospice, or The Chapel at Mariner Sands.