John T. Whatley Joins LALH Board of Directors

John T. Whatley Joins LALH Board of Directors

John T. Whatley
John T. Whatley admiring the dahlias in his garden. Courtesy John T. Whatley./

Moved by the sharp decline in honeybee populations, John T. “Ted” Whatley recently took up bee keeping in his garden in Austin, Texas. “There is so much to learn,” he says. It is a statement that those who spend time in Whatley’s company hear often.

This spring, LALH President Michael Jefcoat welcomed Whatley, an educator by profession, to the board of directors. Whatley earned bachelor of arts and master of education degrees at Harvard University. In between, he served for three years as an infantry and communications officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. He pursued a career in education at private schools all over the country, teaching history for eleven years and serving as a headmaster for nineteen.

Since 1988, when he returned to his native Austin, Whatley has volunteered with organizations including the Austin public schools, the People’s Community Clinic, and the University of Texas Visiting Committees for History and Libraries. In 2001, observing that low-income children often need more than academic ability to pursue higher education, Whatley founded Breakthrough Austin, an organization that helps develop comprehensive skills. Starting in middle school, children in this program receive intensive, personalized interventions to support their goal of becoming the first in their families to go to college.

John T. Whatley touring the C. L. Browning Ranch
Whatley touring the C. L. Browning Ranch with the LALH board of directors in April. Photo by Jessica Dawson.

In addition to Whatley’s life-long passions for history and education, he is an accomplished gardener enthusiastic to learn more about native plants, landscape design, and ecosystem conservation. His wife, Melba Davis Whatley, is the founder of the local Waller Creek Conservancy, which strives to conserve the creek’s ecosystem and transform the Austin city parks and neighborhoods through which it flows. As he recently wrote to his Harvard classmates, “This opportunity combines my gardening, history, and landscape design interests. LALH has published a wonderful list which I commend to landscape design and gardening addicts of the Class of 1955.”

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