Don Whitby

April  13th, 1946 January  17th, 2024
Last location
Don Whitby

Obituary

Our dear Mr Whitby passed away peacefully at home on 17 January 2024. We honour him with our memories and tributes, and we thank him for everything that he has done for us.

Memory wall

Post your condolences or share your Memories.


February 25, 2024
Mr Whitby seem to give so much of himself. My memories of him are entirely happy ones. I have often wondered about the private person. He seemed larger than life. Through the LDDS he dragged out of me a reluctant performer. From the Odd Couple to Our Town (1983-84) and a few musical numbers, Mr Whitby combined a seriousness towards the craft but also a sense of play. I regret not making the effort to meet him years later and to talk to him a life time devoted the formation of young minds.
Sharaad Kuttan
February 24, 2024
Dear Mr. Whitby,

It's taken me awhile to write this, because, well... it's just so hard to find the words. You've had such a profound impact on me. And yet, I find myself thinking that you would (as you did in JC) yell at me to "just start writing!!!"

You had a way of giving each student exactly what they needed. I was a foreigner, late to join the school, painfully shy, and completely lost in those early classes. You gave me the guidance and care I needed, without making it feel like pity. You gave me just enough space so that I could find my own way of thinking about literature.

In those stressful JC years, you brought joy and humour... and what was perceptibly LOVE... to the classroom. You reminded us that it was important to dig deep and connect to that which moved us most, despite all the pressures we felt around us.

Your trademark words - "keep on keeping on" - kept me going through some really hard days. That mantra is simple, and therefore easy to hold on to when it felt like just about everything was slipping away...

How many of us can look back on life and say: we did what we were meant to do here, and did it exceedingly well? Without a doubt, you can. I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to learn from you. Thank you so much.

- Jasmin
Jasmin Johnson, 99A04
February 23, 2024
Picture this:- Early one hot & humid Saturday morning, as shopkeepers on the third floor of People’s Park Centre tucked & pulled open their louvred shutters with a loud rattle, an unusual trio approach a back corridor of three bridalwear shops. One not-small Caucasian woman with her hair pulled back in an unrelenting bun and one shorter brown-haired gentleman with the trace of a moustache. Then, to complete the Odd Trio, there’s a Chinese girl. Not yet 18. Definitely not looking like their daughter. Definitely not ready to be married. But the angmoh couple are in a rush and proceed to toss different bridal gowns to the young girl in a changing room. Seeing the hesitation in the shopkeepers’ eyes, the girl tries to explain in halting Mandarin that they are buying costumes for a show. I will not lie. It took me ages to find the words. I think I landed on ‘this is for play but not masak masak’. Whatever it was, it helped throw off any worries the shopkeepers had of operationalising a child-teen bride syndicate.

Ah, Mr Whitby. Oh, Ms Sutherland. I said goodbye in person a long time ago but there will be no last ‘thank you’s’ from me. As fresh as a rainbow, with the hope this note helps spark happy memories for others.

You taught me to always be on the look-out. Look beyond the list of sign-up’s. It was post-exam season and a friend had asked me to wait outside your office while he auditioned for a part in the play. As I looked through my choral score, the smoke coming from your office made me cough. You popped your head out to see The Cougher, ignored my explanation that I was waiting and barked ‘Well whatever are you waiting FOR?!’ And then you asked me in to read some lines from Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. The rest, is history.

Thank you for making me braver than the girl who followed her friend. Thank you for showing me art-making with honesty, wit and passion. The list goes on… but here, I can almost hear a hiss ‘OH STOP!’. I shall chuckle and hold the rest to my heart with a smile. Thank you for the love.

May L.
(Emily Webb in 1991’s Our Town)
May
February 15, 2024
Dear Mr Whitby,
Thank you for all the fond memories and FUN - especially during school vacations when you are in-charge!! No P and VPs.. are around.
Thank you for the time you spend reading all our project assignments when Emily and myself were doing our Dip in Business Management; many thanks for all the Grade As the group has gotten.
miss YOU & your laughter always,
Dan and Cecilia
Cecilia
February 12, 2024
Hi Don, I hope you're resting easy wherever you are in the ether. I am so lucky to have been taught by you (surely, you were one of the biggest reasons I decided to be a teacher, and why Wordsworth still makes me giggle - those ridiculous dancing daffodils) and have the privilege to work with you and be a friend. I try to describe "what" you were like to people who have not met you, and I think "wildly kind, fiercely compassionate" would be the best phrase. You had a way of bringing out the best of us without coddling. I think of that day in Sheffield a lot and I'm missing you greatly.
Jasmine Seah
February 12, 2024
I always knew of Don as the legendary Mr Whitby from my NJC friends and from my own A level literature teachers who mentioned him when they found out I was teaching in NJC. Alas, he was never my direct boss but he was a figure of steady authority in the staffroom: a beacon of wit and kindliness.


May Ee
February 11, 2024
When Mr Whitby was head of department, I was a JC student, weak in GP. As one who is good at all other subjects, the school wanted to help me do better at GP. While I really wanted to improve, I didn’t know how… it was Mr Whitby who encouraged me and got me to keep trying. Well, I passed in the end and even got a scholarship. Life could be different if I didn’t. Thank God for Mr Whitby. Rest in peace sir!
James
James Kwie
February 11, 2024
Don Whitby was one of those rare individuals whose presence and passion for teaching had a lasting impact on everyone around him.

Uninterested in my science classes, I found a creative outlet in the drama club. From a bit part my first year to stepping up into a leading role unexpectedly the next year, the drama club helped me to grow as a person.

Mr. Whitby challenged me to think critically, feel genuinely, and act compassionately. Through his guidance, I found both courage and self-confidence outside the traditional definitions of what it meant to be a successful student.

I treasure those memories and experiences, which not only helped me find a home at NJC, but instilled in me the power to shape my own future in the years that followed.

I like to think that Mr. Whitby knew he was not just teaching drama or literature, but he was giving us all the keys to unlocking our own potential.

Amit
94S14
Amit Mathur
February 10, 2024
Dear Mr Whitby,

To me, you were and will always be a disruptor long before that word and its meaning came into being.

You invited me On the Razzle with you and shared insight and firm encouragement wrapped in dry, sharp wit, delivered with impeccable timing, often reinforced by steely, yet kindly eyes framed by animated bushy eyebrows and thick glasses.

Full of naughty nuances, double entendres and caustic observations, you embodied fun and irreverence within a tightly coiled spring of intensity and at times anxiety. Many of us remember witnessing first hand or hearing of your pacing back and forth in the wings at the drama Centre and the imprint you left.

Going on the Razzle also gave me the chance to meet amazing people, some of whom I have the privilege of counting as dear friends and I am forever grateful.

Vale Don Whitby
Prakash Menon
February 9, 2024
I don't remember much of my time in NJ, mostly because I'd decided many years ago to compartmentalise away such a terribly miserable time in my life. But the one thing that simply would not and still does not fit into that box is Mr. Whitby.

Within the humblest of classrooms this man taught us how to unearth colour and light and love and despair and the duality of man and everything caught in between. Within the pages of desperately annotated texts, always complemented by his piercing wit this man taught us to see meaning.

It's strange how just two years of English Literature classes still drives how I embark on new projects in my career today. Between the stark white sheets of insufferably dry design briefs I still find myself searching for patterns, motifs, rhythm, and narrative with the same critical rigour he'd trained us to have. And, you know, maybe this is what the Prophetic Finger was all about.

Mr. Whitby, so much of how I think today - both in my life and in my career - has been shaped by you. What an honour and privilege it is to have been under your tutelage. Thank you for all of it. Rest easy.
KC / 10SH26
February 9, 2024
You had a way of demystifying literature without losing the magic of it all, reminding us always to "say it like it is."

Because of you I learned to love literature. Because of you I saw how a master breaks down complexities into simple language. Because of you I saw what a mentor could be. Because of you I aspire to be more.

I think many can testify to how constant a presence you have been over the years and how great your influence has been on us all. I had the joy of running into a couple of others from NJ whom you taught. We reminisced about you, and still do. One of them was even from your first batch, and I your last. It's funny how connected we were thanks to you, though our times in NJ were decades apart.

So here I am, 12 years after we parted ways in 2012, saying goodbye again.

Bye Mr Whitby. We said we'll miss you. We still do, and ever more keenly. Until we meet again.

With love,
Ed, 12SH07
Ed
February 9, 2024
I loved my literature classes at NJC. It was a real treat to be taught by Mr Whitby, Ms Ann Sutherland & Mr Tony Clarke, whose passion, wit and humour left indelible impressions on us all. My fond memory of Mr Whitby is his quick-witted quip of "Who is that social butterfly?!" when my pager went off in class. We loved him much. Rest in peace Mr Whitby, you are well-loved and remembered by many.
Audrey
Class 98A05
Audrey Phua
February 9, 2024
"You live as long as the last person who remembers you."

You taught us about meanings,
in words, choices and places of belonging.
Cantankerous, wisteria, foxes nipping under the hedges.
You saw magic in the setting and settling of a singular sheet of tablecloth - particular, pleated, pristine.
You were magic for me too, Mr Whitby, and I remember you.
Rest in peace.
KK 05A02
February 9, 2024
"Oxy-MORON?! You're the moron!"

Ah, Mr Whitby. You did not hold back, did he? Or maybe that is you holding back!

You were so colourful, so incredibly expressive, you made Shakespeare come alive!

I wish now I had gotten to know you better as adult. I wonder what it would have been like to have a drink or two with you. I can just imagine you and Ms Sutherland, quaffing, smoking and laughing in a pub as you poked fun at the serious passers-by.

You will always remain in my memory as one of the bright spots in a miserable time.

I hope my own child will encounter an equally inspiring figure who will light their way through teenhood.

A toast to an extraordinary teacher! 🍻

Sarah-Jean, 1991
Sarah-Jean Ng
February 9, 2024
Dear Mr. Whitby,
It took me just over 20 years to part ways with my Prac Crit notes from JC. When I made the decision to teach Literature, I held to them, thinking they would prove useful. Truth be told, I never used any of those poems/extracts. When I finally let them go a couple of months ago, it dawned on me that what I was holding onto wasn't knowledge per se; it was that feeling of awe, that enlightened moment when the scales fell, that intellectual satisfaction of understanding. So much of who I am in the classroom is shaped by you. Thank you for the gift of words. May you rest in peace, Mr. Whitby. You've lived so, so well.
Yao Lingyun
February 8, 2024
Dear Mr Whitby,
I'm sorry to not have been able to share this with you in person:
I'm so very lucky to have had you as one of my Literature teachers in 1990-1991 at NJC;
I wish I'd had you as my GP (General Paper) teacher too!
Your dictum: "Not words on a page; (but) actors on a stage" made King Lear come alive in class;
your dynamically gripping and expressive style of teaching wasn't just in class, your verve and zest was present in everyday NJC encounters on campus.
You pushed me to get into character beyond being just my 'self' in an Alan Ayckbourn play school production.
And you animatedly studiously concernedly coached us all in an NJC lecture hall: to memorise distinctive Shakespearean lines we could all use well in our A level exams.
May You Rest In Peace after having taught so many years (at NJC) and transformed so many students' lives in joy and delight, Ping
Ping
February 8, 2024
Dear Mr Whitby, how I will miss you in this world. You were never afraid to be a real person alongside your role as teacher. You smoked and cursed, sweated profusely in the terrible heat, bristled at people’s mannerisms for no apparent reason, scolded and teased us, ferreted out our real thoughts, and helped us be real people in the world too. You could always appreciate a good call out in return, I will always cherish that.
Adulting sucks in so many ways, which is why we need literature, and minds trained to spot genius, hypocrisy, malapropisms, and irony. Thank you for teaching us nuance, and also how to laugh at ourselves.
If only in the afterlife, stop smoking!
Love always,
Radha.
Radha Avadhani
February 8, 2024
Don Whitby was a major, possible *the* major highlight of my time in NJC in 1987/1988.

I was mucking about doing gawd knows what outside the room he shared with Ms Ann Sutherland and making a racket. As a Bio (S6) student I might not have crossed paths with Whitby easily but he stuck his head out and hollered "you, come in". I was puzzled, curious, probably a little petrified.

The two of them then said, we want someone with that lower register to act in this play...

Next thing I know I was "selected" to act alongside Ming Yu Chiang and Jane Lau in this strange weird play called the Lamppost. Basically on the basis of my making a din outside Whitby's office!

After Lampost, I ended up doing the SBC Debates 1987 which was a fantastic experience despite being hollered at repeatedly and being told that he would take a part of my/our anatomy as earrings (directed at any/all of the guys who did/said anything daft). It was an absolute hoot.

For Razzle they somehow co-opted me to build props and look after sound effects and goodness knows what else. Again, like Lamppost and the Debates 1987, working with Don Whitby and Ann Sutherland was an absolute treat and a clear highpoint of my time in NJC.

I learnt a lot from Don and Ann. I think about them a lot and will still continue to do so.

I wish we had been able to visit and spend time with Don in recent years, but it just wasn't to be - some of us suggested actually suggested that we offer to fly him out, in whatever class of travel he wanted, and a bunch of us would chip in and fund that. But he didn't bite.

RIP.
Tan Ken Hwee
February 8, 2024
Ah Mr Whitby - what would the world of literature have been without you and Ms Sutherland??How would we have gotten through THE Winter's Tale and Lear? Could we have put up Our Town?The memories you helped us create remain strong and full of laughter and fondness as does the abiding love of literature. I am certain you and Ms Sutherland are having a gala time smoking away surrounded by your cats.

Farhana Sharmeen Class of 1991
Farhana Sharmeen
February 8, 2024
Mr Whitby was an inspiration to so many of us, who were lucky to have had him as a teacher, both in the classroom, and in the theatre. He opened our eyes and hearts to worlds beyond us, and taught us to dream. Thank you and rest in peace, dear Mr
Whitby.
NJC 82 EA4
Farah Namazie
February 8, 2024
Whitby and Sutherland, I know you have a room somewhere in the heavens crammed with books and filled with eye-tearing cigarette smoke. Thank you for the hours you spent outside your classes training me. I bet you’re correcting and making wisecracks at the angels right now…
Lyn Lee, Class of 1991
February 8, 2024
Always looked forward to Mr Whitby's classes. He was a ball of energy. Moved around the classroom and taught with his whole body, arms, legs, eyes, spectacles. Taught us how to think. Love Lit and Prac Crit to this day because of him. Best GP tutor ever. More than that, he was kind, sensitive, and had a heart of gold.

I have been through 16 years as a student in the Singapore education system, and I seriously think Mr Whitby was the best Teacher I ever had. Singapore students were greatly blessed to have such a teacher for decades.
God bless you, Mr Whitby. I miss your booming voice and laugh. Hope you are having a great time in heaven.
Julie Tan
February 8, 2024
Ignited my love for literature and laid the foundation for me to become an educator. Thank u Sir..
Ela Maran
February 8, 2024
Mr Whitby taught my odd combination class of 7 students, Shakespeare and Pract Crit. He would come to class with the text, sit on the table and proceed to conduct the lesson. There was no need for Powerpoint slides or any IT tools. His central pedagogy was critical questioning. In that one hour tutorial, he taught us to think on our feet, he threw questions that pushed us to better defend our opinions. Through this, we built a strong foundation in critical reading. Because of Mr Whitby I grew to love Literature and was inspired to be a Literature teacher. What he taught me has been foundational.
Suzanne Choo
February 8, 2024
Dear Mr Whitby,

I refuse to believe that you’re gone. 12 years ago, I was part of your last batch of literature students in NJC. Thanks to you, I learned to appreciate the profound beauty of this subject. Because of you, I completely fell in love with literature, even until this day. You’ll be sorely missed, O captain, my captain.
Crystal Loh, 12SH07
February 8, 2024
Thank you for your love for the language and NJC. Thank you for your passion for life and learning. Thank you for your huge laughter and ever liveliness that inspired me always! Rest in peace, Don.
Amy Ng
February 8, 2024
Dear Mr Whitby,

Your Prac Crit lessons taught me to never be afraid of voicing my thoughts and opinions. You gave me a “no fear” approach to intellectual analysis that shaped me as a student and, later, as a Law lecturer. It was ok to not know the answer immediately. It was ok to think out loud, as long as we were prepared to reason out loud, taking the next logical step towards the right/plausible conclusion. Heaven help the student who blurted out a response, unthinking, and unprepared to answer the questions you posed to lead them through rigorous analysis! I modelled my teaching on your Socratic method, though I am sure I was never quite able to emulate your inimitable style.

Thank you for literally yanking me by the collar, out of the college foyer and into your office, demanding I do a piece of PC for you on the spot because you “knew [I] could do better than that nonsense [I] wrote you earlier that morning. Thank you for all the heart-to-hearts in the pub, and all the advice you gave with such wit, humour, insight and compassion. Thank you for demanding intellectual rigour and excellence from me, and believing that I was capable of more. Thank you most of all for the kindness of your words to me the night of our leavers’ dinner and dance, unlooked for, and which I had not known I needed so badly to hear until you spoke them. I will never forget those words, and I will never forget you. Rest in peace, and keep on keeping on, stirring things up, your voice and laughter booming away for all eternity.

Martha Gee, 99A04
Martha Gee
February 8, 2024
Dear Mr Whitby,

When I heard of your passing, I experienced a sense of profound sadness I haven’t felt for a long time. I didn’t have the good fortune to be taught by you but from all accounts, you were said to be a brilliant teacher. I’ve had many different bosses during my time in the service but you are by far, my favourite. Your compassion and constant encouragement and support had kept me going when I was starting out as a BT. All it leaves me now to say is farewell, god bless and rest in peace …
Clement
February 8, 2024
I will always remember that great booming voice and laughter ringing through the corridors of NJC. Thank you for your wit and guidance throughout. You will be missed dearly. Rest in peace.

Li Lian Khoo
Li Lian Khoo
February 7, 2024
Dear Mr Whitby,
It is with much sadness when I heard of your passing from former colleagues at NJC.

While i was one of those small handful of literature students who didn’t have the privileged to be taught by you back in NJC,… as a student I was always envious when I hear from other college mates how engaging and thought provoking your Lit classes were and the positive impact you leave on your students towards this subject.

When I returned to NJ as a teacher I had the privileged of working with you on a number of college-wide projects, and learned from you your excellent eye for details, and the importance of taking pride in whatever project one takes charge of, however small it might be or unglamorous it might looks. …. And to embrace an attitude of excellence and service with honor.

I will always remember you fondly both as a student and a colleague.
Mark Lo
February 7, 2024
Mr Whitby taught us practical criticism . 1995-1996. He made the page, poem come alive, it was masterful watching him and learning from him. May he ever rest in peace, reciting poetry right there beside the greats!
Meenakshi Palaniappan
February 7, 2024
Such energy, such passion and such rigour in all your lessons — Mr Whitby, you shaped the student and the teacher in me. May you rest in peace and leave the rest of us to endeavour to carry on your spirit of service with honour.
~ Lim Choon Yeoh, 90A03
Jennifer Lim Choon Yeoh
February 7, 2024
I am sorry I never got to say goodbye, Mr Whitby.

You were my teacher first, then my boss. You may not remember, but you forever changed my understanding of the concept of marriage in one remarkable GP lesson, when you threw us the question: “What is the purpose of marriage?” Idealistic teenagers, we offered first the romantic notions of love, of commitment, of marriage then giving the licence for having children. And you quashed them all, showing how even with marriage, people can fall out of love, can get divorced, and conversely, without getting married, can also be in love and be committed. And people can certainly procreate with or without a marriage certificate.

And finally you unveiled the reason, broke our romantic illusions: Marriage is for the protection of assets, that they are passed on to one's own bloodline. So much for love; it's all about the protection of inheritance.

That one lesson has forever stayed in my mind. And changed the way I saw the world as well as guided me on how I would go on to teach my own GP lessons. To this day, I feel thankful to have experienced lessons with you, as well as with Ms Sutherland, when our class then was devoid of a permanent GP tutor.

Coming back as a teacher, I felt privileged to be able to learn from you, Miss Sutherland and Mr Clark, all teachers I highly regarded in my student days.

I love drama, but had no drama background. And so was really happy when I was assigned as a ELDDS teacher one year. I was surprised when I was given a chance to direct one of the plays in the line-up. And was pleasantly surpirised when you commented that I had done a good job enhancing the play as director.

I also remembered you putting me in charge of Pre-U Seminar one year and how you had gently guided me.

Thank you for the opportunities, the patience and the guidance, Mr Whitby. I wish I had more time with you; I wish I had gotten to say goodbye. To me, you are the English Department of NJC.

Siew Wei
February 7, 2024
He taught me, in 1983-84, the Practical Criticism paper in English Literature. Because of him, the paper held no fear for me. You acquire such a profound understanding from his teaching that you approach any prose passage and poem with utter confidence, even though you have seen neither prose nor poem before.

I could feel my brain making new synaptic connections in his class, with his unique Socratic method of teaching, the emphatic waving of his arms and his thunderous "Chong! You've got this!" And somehow the answer comes to you as he leads your brain through each logical progression of reasoning.

BEST TEACHER EVER!

Plus he threw awfully good parties at his flat in Holland Village, which I had the privilege to attend as a member of the Drama Club (I was Treasurer of zero funds, actress of bit parts only).

Rest in peace Mr Whitby! You made a positive difference in many lives.
Josephine Chong
February 7, 2024
My last memory of Mr Whitby was our potluck get-together at his place. We spent the afternoon stuffing our faces while he just sat there - a bemused look on his face at the gluttons that had descended upon him - with a glass of whiskey in hand and Pewsie perched on his lap.

I will always remember you that way, Mr Whitby. Thank you for the gift of English Lit.

Love,
Yvonne
Yvonne Lim
February 6, 2024
In 1988, when ELDDS held a three-day public performance of Tom Stoppard's "On the Razzle," I was cast in a bit part as Herr Zangler's tailor. For some reason which I can't now recall, rehearsals and set development were initially overseen by student directors.

Eventually, when Whitby got to one of our early rehearsals, he sat there looking at me. and with that piercing gaze, asked rhetorically: "Do you know what would be really cool, kiddo?"

I felt my throat tighten with anxiety.

The previous year, in a similar casual tone, Whitby had prompted me to deliver a line about the mating trends of toads directly to then Principal Mr Chan Tung Fong. I was lead in "And then the Psychologist, she say." And, Whitby thought it would be hilarious to make Mr Chan squirm during the play.

You literally could hear a pin drop when I broke the fourth wall, delivered, and lingered on the mating toads question. That of course, and Mr Chan's nervous giggle as the entire cast stared at him.

As predicted, Whitby thought it would be fun to camp up this tailor. Not just by inflection or softening up the tailor a bit. No, oh no. Whitby wanted much more than that. In no time, the tailor went from a John Wick-esque what-kind-of-firepower-you-need craftsman, to a flaming, gesticulating, larger-than-life, gorgeous woman.

It was perfect, of course.

It's been 36 years from when I left NJ, and I still feel a debt of gratitude to the man for: The ability to see the audience-centric perspective. The dramatic skills. The ability to deal with the stress of a live performance. And the sheer fucking audacity.

Thank you, Mr Whitby. Thank you for all of it. Thank you, for you.
Colin Wee
February 6, 2024
I remember the counselor saying: “there aren’t many teachers in this school who don’t dislike you.” And my retort: “well lucky for me then that the very few who like me, really do.”

My cockiness was a mark of how secure I felt being under your wing, Mr Whitby. I count those Saturday SYF rehearsals in 2005 and 2006 as truly formative experiences. Your passion (and agony) showed how much you cared for and believed in our potential. Nothing motivated us to be better.

And then you became my literature tutor and sapphire mentor. You never made learning feel like studying. And you always knew how to guide without patronizing, how to praise and validate in a way that never bred complacency but instead spurred us on to see how much more we could do. You made teaching such an art.

It’s been 16 years since I saw you last and I have thought of you, fondly, often unexpectedly, in these years. How you did my hair for a production, your deftness with rollers wordlessly helping to demolish notions of traditional gender roles in a roomful of impressionable teens. How you slammed on the desk with “THAT’S what I call an education” when I proffered some piece of trivia nobody would ordinarily care about. How you commiserated with my silly disciplinary woes (and conspired with me to keep them from my mum at the meet-the-parents session! Trusting my judgment that this was a battle I could as an almost-adult handle on my own) - but showed your solidarity as we sniggered together at the ridiculousness of a nerd like me being labeled by a rigid education system as “wayward”, reminding me that college is just a mere speck in the vast universe of what my life would be.

It will always be a regret that I never got to show you what became of the girl you helped to grow, what conventional achievements I had, what unconventional paths I took- but at the same time, I could I imagine the smirk because you knew what I was capable of all along.

Rest well, Mr Whitby. Your legacy lives.
Adrianni Marhain
February 6, 2024
It is with a heavy heart that I would like to say my piece respecting the late Mr. Don Whitby, a remarkable English teacher who left an indelible mark on my life. Mr. Whitby was not just a teacher, but a force of nature with his impressive, "alive" eyebrows, infectious guffaw laughter and intense stare that could both intimidate and inspire. His boundless energy and unwavering dedication to his students made him a truly exceptional educator.

Mr. Whitby was a source of immense inspiration to me. His passion for literature and language was contagious, and he had a remarkable ability to ignite a love for learning in all of his students. He challenged us to think critically, to question the world around us, and to express ourselves with eloquence and conviction. His guidance and encouragement helped me to become a better writer and a more thoughtful reader.

Despite his strict demeanor, Mr. Whitby was incredibly patient and understanding. He took the time to listen to our ramblings, offering guidance and support whenever we needed it. His belief in our potential never wavered, and he pushed us to exceed our own expectations. His unwavering commitment to our growth and development as individuals was truly remarkable.

Mr. Whitby was a great person in every sense of the word. He was a mentor, a friend, and a pillar of strength for so many of us. His impact on my life and the lives of countless others is immeasurable, and his memory will continue to inspire and guide us.

Rest in peace, Mr. Whitby. Thank you for everything. Your legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of all those whose lives you touched. You will be deeply missed.

Varghese Thomas
NJC, Singapore 1980-1981
Varghese Thomas
February 6, 2024
Don was my first immediate boss when I started teaching. As a newbie I've always valued his gentle avancular manner and light touch on work matters. Will always be grateful for his support when I was unwell. Over the years I've come across many generations of njcians who have testified to his impact on their lives. Goodnight boss. May you rest in peace.
Gerard
February 6, 2024
Dear Mr Whitby,

When I found out that you'd left us, I thought to myself, this is the end of an era. I will always think of you as the guardian spirit of NJC's English Department -- you with your keen intellect, caustic wit, and dramatic eyebrows. But above all: I will remember your kindness and wisdom. I learned so much from you.

Thank you so much for being a wonderful, market-spoiling first boss and mentor. You took me under your wing when I was a clueless new teacher and taught me almost everything I now know about writing. I only found out years after I'd left NJ that sitting in for your Prac Crit lectures was an unprecedented privilege -- one that you'd refused to grant to other teachers who asked. I am beyond grateful.

I will also always have fond memories of you looming over my cubicle -- situated as it was on the busiest thoroughfare of the 1st floor staffroom -- with your nuggets of encouragement and teacherly advice ("Keep on keeping on!"; "Stop faffing about!"; etc). Somehow, you had this knack of seeing what needed to be said, and saying it in a way that made it easy to hear.

Goodnight, sweet prince -- and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.
Ruihe
February 6, 2024
Dear Mr Whitby, thank you for inspiring my love of English literature. I have fond memories of you reciting poetry in a soothing voice. You were always so kind and I always remember you telling the class about attending my A-level art showcase. You are a wonderful educator with an infectious passion for the subject, the type of person that leaves an indelible imprint on a student’s life.
Yi Lin
February 6, 2024
Dear Mr Whitby,

I vividly recall the insightful advice that you generously imparted, always intertwined with your unique sense of humour. You were extraordinary and it was a blessing to have crossed paths with you. Thank you for the positive impact you've made on my life. May you rest in peace, knowing you have profoundly touched the lives of many.

Yashi
Yashi
February 5, 2024
When I heard about your passing, I thought to myself with great sadness, that this was the end of an era. I never got to say goodbye when you retired and went back to the UK, but I will forever be grateful to be under your protection as an ex-student, an ex-teacher and ex-mentee.

Thank you for second chances, for opportunities, for believing in me when I had little confidence in my own abilities, Thank you for being a great boss and for your spirit of fatherly love, even though you tried to act all gruff and grumpy to keep us all in line haha .
Pamela Leow
February 5, 2024
Dearest Mr Whitby, my heart sank to hear of your passing. I had not been able to contact you in the past few years, I guess emails are still not your favourite. I am proud to say that I helped you set it up, because I wanted so badly to keep in touch when you left Singapore. We spoke about you all the time even after you went back home, and always laughed when we talked about how it's always ALL or nothing for you. That year our little corner won the Chinese New Year Deco competition will forever be etched in my memory. You were reluctant to join us in our antics at first, but when you grudgingly agreed, it was full speed ahead because of your slave-driving. We spent hours cutting out rabbits (it was the Year of the Rabbit) and sticking them above our corner. We even had a whole line of the Zodiac stuck on the walls. It was called the Rabbit Warren. Yes, we probably learnt only then, that where rabbits live is called a warren. I have always treasured that little nook we had, our little warren. It was so nice to have you share your stories, the ones that involved Miss Ting and you as you both looked back in nostalgia. You lived such a colourful life and made such an impact on many. I am thankful to have been one of them. Rest well, Mr Whitby.
Eunice
February 5, 2024
dear mr whitby, thank you for making Lit wonderful. For as long as i can, I will remember the difference between rhyme and rhythm; and bob and thomas dylan (indeed!). Most of all i will inspire to be as inspiring
as you have been in lighting up a love for lit - though truly, there can only be
one mr don whitby, of njc.
AC, 99A04
February 5, 2024
Dear Mr Whitby, it was with great sadness that I learned of your passing, and I regret that I didn't get in touch with you before you left Singapore. You were among the handful of teachers who had a lasting impact on my life. During my decade as an expat professor in Cambodia, Hawaii, and Nigeria, you were one of my models of how I engaged with my students. In my academic career, your lessons on Shakespeare and Practical Criticism remained deeply influential in my writing. And I think I had your cat Pewsie in mind when I moved from taking care of 3 dogs to my 4 cats!
Alvin Lim
February 5, 2024
Your generosity of spirit I received gratefully
Your indelible wit I enjoyed tremendously
Your contagious laughter I remember fondly
Your example of gentle leadership I aspire to continuously
Rest well Don.
Martin
February 5, 2024
Dearest Mr Whitby, thanks for stepping into my life and leaving such a huge impact. We’ve known each other for just 4 short years or so, but I feel like I’ve known you in many capacities. As a Lit tutor, you displayed your razor sharp wit through barbed jokes, and your amazing capacity for patience in insisting that we took the time to read each poem aloud and to dissect every word and line on the page. As a drama teacher and director, you were passionate about your craft, and it ignited a passion for storytelling in us too (you should be proud that many of your alumni had gone on to do lit / drama at university - as for me, I ended up directing my faculty’s final year musical). As my sapphire scholar mentor, we had many conversations overlooking the little pond / patches of peaceful greens in school about my dreams and ambitions. People know you to be sarcastic, funny and intelligent; but I also know you to be incredibly tender and earnest to your students despite what your never-too-rude jibes suggest. I miss our conversations, your exaggerated Singlish (“Cannot LAH!”), your whining about Dio’s tiny car, and your (rare) hearty laughs dearly. I hope we will meet again someday on the other side, and that there will be warm tea and wisteria waiting.
Kristy Teo
February 5, 2024
Dear Mr Whitby, it has been 24 years since the first day I met you as a beginning teacher in school. We were from different subject departments, but we had worked together over many school events. You have thought me the need for clarity of thought and focus, and yet it is the little things that sums up to an excellent outcome. Therefore, not to neglect the "little things" while pursuing the "big picture".

I have you to thank for my journey in education, and it was a blessing to have known you as a fellow educator in National Junior College, Singapore.
Goh Soon Hoe
February 5, 2024
Dear Mr Whitby, 16 long years have passed since I last saw you and our paths never crossed again as you retired to the UK. I was deeply saddened to learn of your passing. I never knew you were so close to my parent's’ age and it makes sense now why I’ve always had nothing but deep respect for you even as you showed us fatherly affection in your unobtrusive way. I will always hold dear your listening ear and wise counsel at half yearly reviews which I count a privilege. I will miss your early morning chortles shared with Ann before the assembly bell and the slight furrow of your brow when you’re deep in thought waking up and down the corridors. But most of all I will miss not knowing back then just how much I mourn you now. Sleep well, Mr Whitby. Goodnight.
Jong Ee
February 5, 2024

You were so far and yet you are always near
Here in my heart and home
We never said good bye
The last message we shared was Auld Lang Syne
And the one after that remains unread
I found out why
So let us leave it at that in your unfussing way
And hope to meet one day in a better place
And till then keep keeping on will I
I hear you say.

Missing you lots and lots.

Love, Dot, Jerry and family

Dorothy Chua
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