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Cornelius News

Louis ‘Rodney’ Whisnant passes away at 95

Marine Rod Whisnant stands during Marine Corp hymn at Veterans Day ceremony

UPDATED. A long-time church, political and business leader in Cornelius has passed away at the age of 95. Louis “Rodney” Whisnant served on the Cornelius Town Board for 16 years up until the 1990s. He was also a Sunday School superintendent and teacher at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church where he sang in the church choir for nearly five decades, singing solos at countless weddings and funerals.

The World War II veteran also served on the board of directors of the old Cornelius Savings & Loan, as well as the Mecklenburg Historical Association. He was a retired quality control engineer for many companies.

Former Cornelius Town Manager Bob Race said Mr. Whisnant was a brilliant commissioner who quickly understood issues. Soft spoken, but highly respected, Whisnant served as mayor pro tem for a number of years.  “You knew his mind was always turning, and he always gave sound advice,” Race said.

A graduate of Davidson College, Mr. Whisnant is survived by his wife Miriam, daughter Jane Workman and her husband Richard.

Services will be held on Saturday Oct​.​ 26, at 2​ pm​ at Mount Zion United Methodist Church in Cornelius​.


A burial will immediately follow at the church cemetery.  The family will receive friends following the committal service at the family life center.

The family sent his biography Friday:

Louis Rodney Whisnant, of Cornelius, North Carolina, died peacefully Tuesday, October 22, 2019 at Novant Health Medical Center in Huntersville, North Carolina.  He was born in Lenoir, North Carolina on February 29, 1924 to Lonnie Earson Whisnant and Myrtle Martin Whisnant. Rodney took great delight in his leap year birthday by reminding friends and family that he was twenty three years old.  

In June, 1942 where he played first clarinet in the High School Band and served as Drum Major.  The band won numerous awards for excellence and in his senior year represented the State of North Carolina at the World’s Fair.  He entered Davidson College in the fall of 1942 where he was a baritone soloist in the chorus, played first clarinet in the Davidson College Band and the Davidson Queens Symphony.  Rodney also played tennis and was a member of the ROTC Unit and Sigma Chi Fraternity.  

In July, 1943, at the end of his freshman year, he volunteered for service in the United States Marine Corps.  He completed basic training at Parris Island, South Carolina and was assigned to Preofficers Training in the V12 Program at Duke University.  Rodney completed Officers Candidate School and was commissioned at Quantico, Virginia as Second Lieutenant in June, 1945 and assigned to a field artillery battalion.  Following his commission, he and his college sweetheart, Miriam Smith, were married June 24, 1945.  

At the end of World War II, following honorable discharge, he returned to Davidson to complete his education and graduated in 1948 with a Bachelor of Science Degree.  While at Davidson, he was elected to Sigma Pi Sigma National Physics Fraternity and to Phi Mu Alpha National Music Fraternity. 


Having remained in the Marine Corps Inactive Reserve, he was called into duty in 1950 during the Korean Conflict and served as a First Lieutenant until his honorable discharge in 1952.  

Rodney’s career as a Quality Assurance Engineer began with General Electric X-ray followed by Douglas Aircraft in the Nike Missile Program, the Automotive Division of General Time and Allied Chemical Crystal Growth Laser Rod Group, from which, he retired.  

Rodney enjoyed public service and served on the Town of Cornelius Board of Commissioners for sixteen years and also served as Mayor Pro Tem.  He received many awards during his tenure including The North Mecklenburg Chamber Award and the North Carolina State University Beautification Servant Award.  He also served on the Board of Directors for the Mecklenburg Historical Association, Cornelius Savings and Loan, and The Farmers Company.  

In 1945, he joined Mount Zion United Methodist Church of Cornelius where he taught Sunday School, served as Sunday School Superintendent, volunteered as Assistant Boy Scout Troup Leader and was a choir member and soloist for forty six years.  In May, 2015, he and his wife, Miriam, were honored by Mount Zion Church for their faithful and loyal service.   

Throughout his years, Rodney was a valued mentor, not only to family members, but to all those he cherished around him.  He was blessed with a great sense of humor and a quick wit which, when interjected into conversation, gave him great joy.  Rodney was an avid left handed golfer and he enjoyed his beloved Davidson Wildcat and Duke Blue Devil athletic teams. His many pleasures included collecting antiques, woodworking, genealogy, designing needlepoint and spending time at his North Carolina beach home collecting shark teeth and shells.  

Rodney is survived by his wife of 74 years four months, Miriam Smith Whisnant, daughter Jane Whisnant Workman (Richard Norris), his sister-in-law, Lilyan Smith Hunter, nephew Charles Eugene Hunter (Betsy), great nephew Charles Wesley Hunter (Dawn), their children Sidney, Lily and Sophia and cousin, Elsie Halyburton Childress.  He was preceded in death by his parents, his sister, Mary Martin Whisnant Ross (Henry A., Sr.) and nephews Henry A. Ross, Jr. and James William Ross. 

The family extends their heartfelt appreciation to Dr. Ronnie T. Beamon, Dr. Denzel Harris, Dr. Andrew Braunstein and his wonderful team of caregivers.  

The funeral service will be held at Mount Zion United Methodist Church, 19600 Zion Avenue in Cornelius, North Carolina on Saturday, October 26, 2019 at 2:00 p.m.  Interment will follow in the church cemetery. The family will receive friends at a reception in the church Family Life Center following the graveside service.  

Raymer-Kepner Funeral Home of Huntersville, North Carolina is serving the family. 

Memorials may be made to the Smith History Museum, Mount Zion United Methodist Church and American Legion Post 86, Post Office Box 316, Cornelius, North Carolina 28031.