A Warrior's Passing
Monday afternoon (23 October) I got a call informing me that my friend and mentor, William D. Whiteford had passed away suddenly that morning.
The reason I feel compelled to post this notice publicly is that Bill was THE ultimate "Cold Warrior" and every single American owes this man a huge debt of gratitude that will never be repaid. His story deserves to be made known.
His military career started in Vietnam, where he was recruited into the world of Special Operations. Although he was VERY reluctant to ever speak of his experiences, I know that he was involved in some of the blackest of black ops. He once confided in me that he had survived over 50 CQB engagements in his career, and he was probably the single deadliest, most capable human being I've ever encountered (yet he could easily be mistaken for an insurance salesman).
After Vietnam, he traveled the world pursuing his duties as a field agent for a particular government service. (He would never even admit to who he actually worked for, but would often just say that he was "from uncle", which I took to be a tongue and cheek reference to a cheesy spy show from the 60's called "The man from U.N.C.L.E".) Bill had a really weird sense of humor.
I met him in 1986 when he bought one of my early holsters. We became friends and as I learned of his "expertise", I asked him to serve as an informal design consultant. He was a pretty tough critic, and as he mentored me I suffered being called a "F***ing retard" (among other things) on more than one occasion, but he never, ever steered me wrong. Bill's skill, experience and expertise were incorporated into my holster designs and he was a big part of how and why they became known as "high performance" concealment gear. We spent many long (often VERY) long days experimenting and trying new ideas until the product line finally evolved into something that we were both satisfied with.
Bill was also the most honest, ethical guy I've ever met, and the most loyal of friends. He was old school, kinda gruff (sometimes REALLY gruff) and the kind of guy who would tell you the straight truth whether you liked it or not - but you could ALWAYS count on him to do the right thing - no matter what the cost. And as I alluded to before, he posessed a very keen (although dry and dark) wit. It was impossible to ever predict what would come out of his mouth, but the one thing I always knew was that it would be exactly what he thought - and he didn't really care how anyone else felt about it. More often than not, it would leave everyone present red faced, speechless or rolling on the floor (and often some combination of the above).
This man devoted his entire life to helping and protecting others. The world was certainly a much better place while he walked among us. Now that he is gone, there is a void in my heart that will never heal. He was my teacher, mentor, antagonist and friend. I will never be the same without him.
Rest in peace my friend. I'm gonna miss you.
Thats too bad another Good man lost RIP
Rest In Peace William G. Whiteford :usflag:
To be so admired and respected by you - he must have been a super amazing guy.
Since he was so very instrumental in working out some of your perfect holster designs I guess that a part of him still lives on in your holsters and that he will continue on to safeguard people by being an integral part of some of the best protective gun leather ever made.
Amen to all that Gary said........
I attended Bill's military funeral today...having lost the best friend I ever had.
Gary describes EXACTLY my relationship with Bill......substitute knives for holsters.
He was truly one of those people who allowed us to rest peacefully in our beds.
The pastor today said "If one were to look up loyalty and integrity in the dictionary....Bill's picture would be the definition"
So I raise my glass in a last goodbye...
Sleep in Peace my friend...
To me you'll never die....
The best thing I can say after all this time...
Is that you were an old friend of mine.
Greg Covington was actually the one who called me on Monday to notify me of Bill's death. He and I share a unique relationship, as we are both "adopted sons" of Whiteford.
Greg hammer forges combat knives whose designs are HEAVILY influenced by Bill's experience in actually using knives in combat. (Not all of the CQB engagements that I mentioned earlier involved firearms).
I'm not trying to promote Greg's work here (although it is superb stuff, this is neither the time or place for that), but I thought that a bit of an introduction was in order. He is a fine craftsman, and a stand up guy. (Otherwise Whiteford would have kicked his a**)
Glad to have you here, bro.
Nice tribute to an upstanding American. RIP.
He will definitely be dining in the halls of Valhalla with other Honored Departed!
I salute him!
It's always a sad day when a good man and unsung hero leaves us, you were lucky to have known such a man!
Welcome to you Greg.
Sad day Gary when this caliber of ''old school'' guy passes on. They will not easily be replaced, if at all in fact.
Good to see your tribute as it is most obviously fully deserved. I have know just a very few folks of this type - sadly they are all gone.
I'm sorry to hear the news, and I'm sorry for your personal loss.
Your tributes make me wish I had known him.
He lives on in your work, and I'll think about that when I "holster up" with your rigs, Gary.
You're in our thoughts, Gary and Greg.
My condolences to all his friends and family. May he rest in peace.
Men of that caliber are few and far between these days, and without a doubt when they pass they leave a huge void in the fabric of society.
Condolences to you both on the loss of your friend.
I have no words other than I am sorry for your loss. May he rest in peace.
Good men are hard to find...and harder to lose!
Enjoy great memories...