Community Remembers Charles Whitehead

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PANAMA CITY - Hundreds of friends and family members packed Kent-Forest Lawn funeral home this afternoon to say goodbye to a local business, political and community leader.

Charles Whitehead died Saturday night after a long illness. He was 83.

Most people knew Charles Whitehead from his business ventures, particularly, Cook-Whitehead Ford. He was a co-owner, then owner of the highly successful dealership until 2001, when he sold it to Autonation.

He was just as well known for his political involvement serving as the Chairman of the State Democratic Party in the 1980's. But he also did a lot of charity work, helping build the Glenwood Community Center in 2000, and contributing large sums to the Wewahitchika Public Library which now bears his name.

A number of people spoke about Whitehead's life today including his nephew, and former State Attorney General Bob Butterworth and Panama City Mayor Greg Brudnicki.

"You know," Brudnicki said, "...we had letters from Jimmy carter. We had letters from Bill Clinton. I mean, he was an influential guy. He got so much done and he really helped Bay County. Bay County is a better place today because of Charles Whitehead, no doubt."

Whitehead's family chose to have his body cremated. He is survived by his long-time partner Betty, her children and grandchildren.