James Fredrick “Freddie” Wilhite of Opelika, passed away Friday, March 19, 2021. He was 74 years old.
He is survived by his daughter, Candy Wilhite Lanier (Chad), his grandson, (who happens to be named after him) Jameson “Quinn” Lanier, his only barking daughter, Brynn Wilhite, his brothers Jerry Wilhite and Robbin Wilhite.
Freddie was a life-long resident of Lee County, Alabama. With bold and broad strokes, he painted his mark as resourceful and successful businessman and entrepreneur, all over the canvas of Opelika and Auburn. His endeavors included gas stations (Wilhite Shell, Glenndean Shell), serving as an officer on the Auburn Police Dept., a wrecker service, a car dealership (Wilhite Auto Sales), a John Deere dealership, heavy equipment and construction (Wilhite Equipment & Construction), a convenience store (Bread and Buggy), and equipment & utility trailer sales (Wilhite Trailer Sales). Many of those businesses became places where people gathered not only for products or services, but also for company, companionship, and a whole lot of coffee. A whole lot of coffee.
Freddie was an avid car enthusiast and collector. If it had a motor, it was a safe bet that he would find the joy and appeal in it. He loved the beauty of cars in pristine condition but he also saw the possibility that lived in cars that needed some knowledgeable TLC. With his devotion to their care, countless vehicles saw their former glory restored and their appeal expanded. He had things ranging from 1930’s Fords, a variety of 1950’s Chevys, a gorgeous assortment of 1960’s Corvettes, and always a few late model Chevy trucks, in his signature white color. He loved music from the 50’s and 60’s which could apparently only be listened to at high volume for reasons only he understood. He also had his rebellious phase where he listened to a lot of epically twangy, country music. It was a period decorated with big hats, pointy boots, and other questionable clothing choices. Luckily for everyone with ears and eyes, he was delivered out of that time and into the Carhartt era where he remained comfortably for the rest of his life.
A graveside funeral service was held Tuesday, March 23 at 11 a.m. at Garden Hills Cemetery in Opelika. Jeffcoat Trant Funeral home directed the service. The family suggests that any memorial donations be made to Lee County Humane Society.