Obituary of William Whitaker

Colonel William A. Whitaker (USAF-Retired) passed away on Tuesday, December 14, 2010. While at DARPA, he worked on the computer language ADA.
In retirement, he created the Latin-English translation software program, "Whitaker Words".
Colonel William A. Whitaker was preceded in death by his wife, Ruth Kimball Whitaker and a daughter, Laura Lee Whitaker. He leaves his family behind to cherish his memory; Son, Karl Whitaker of Midland. Full military honors will be held at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. Funeral services are under the direction of Lewallen-Garcia-Pipkin Funeral Home. Family messages and condolences may be emailed to: [deleted].

The above taken verbatim from original publication in the archives of the Midland Reporter-Telegram newspaper (USA) dated December 21, 2010.

Personal reminiscence of John White (author of the Blitz Latin machine translator):

Not stated in the obituary was that William Whitaker had a doctorate (PhD) in physics. His Latin dictionary 'Words' (not a translator, notwithstanding the statement in the obituary) was his hobby in retirement, Latin being a subject that had long fascinated him for the elegance of its grammar. He created 'Words' in several stages, but the original efficient structure of the electronic dictionary remained throughout. His first attempt was to copy in all the Latin words taken from a standard basic Latin dictionary, but then he filled out this basic structure with words taken from increasingly detailed and varied paper dictionaries, having first sought permission from the publishers of these dictionaries. His wife Ruth died some four-five years before William, and this personal tragedy (they had been married for fifty years) greatly slowed down his rate of progress with 'Words'.

He had planned to add all words in the Oxford Latin Dictionary (OLD) that were not already present in his electronic dictionary, and had proceeded as far as the letter 'E' (starting naturally from 'A') when Ruth died. The new words were incorporated into his last published version (1.97F) of 'Words'. I do not know how much further he had reached with OLD before his death, but any subsequent additions are not now likely ever to be incorporated into 'Words'.

William Whitaker's work was always of very high quality. Since I first corresponded with him, I found perhaps some 50 errors that needed correction - in what is now a 39,000 word electronic dictionary. I had another 10 or so corrections for him when I discovered that he had died. He was always most helpful to me when I began work on 'Blitz Latin'. I shall miss his help, advice and encouragement.

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